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July Cover Refreshes


Got a bunch of book refreshes.  So much fun picking out new covers.  More details on the old covers vs the new covers will follow!

Cover for Rogue God

Beneath the island beauty lurks deadly magic.

Magic booby-traps waiting years to kill, and worse.  Like making monsters.

Anton Keymas, member of the Vai, a magical Special Forces, launches on his most perilous mission.  Two soldiers missing.  Probably dead.

Keymas may not be able to stop the killing spree.

A twisted fantasy of magic and monsters that takes you on a roller-coaster ride.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

Woman stands on shore with a lantern

Voices ride the fog, in from the sea.  Real?  Or magic?

Meredith tries to find answers.  Her grandfather dead, walked into the sea.

Did the voices call to him?  What do they want?  Now they call to Meredith.

Haunted by the loss, Meredith takes a journey of discovery in this heartwarming tale.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

Woman conjuring up fiery skull

Stranded by war, fire mage Neyan waits for the devil winds to complete one last desperate mission: kill the enemy

Then Captain Jabell rides into town.   Different from the others, he makes Neyan see the man, not the enemy.

For the first time, she questions her mission. But she must break the chains of this endless war…can she?

A dark, twisted tale of betrayal from Linda Maye Adams.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

 

Fairy against a full moon and sparkling water

 

Every year, water sprites visit Lynn’s family’s swimming pool, drawn by the ancestral bloodlines.

But now her grandmother can no longer manage for herself.  Lynn must take up the family obligation.

Half-Korean, Lynn wonders if the water sprites will accept her.

A heartwarming tale that will change Lynn’s fate forever.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

 

Cover Refresh #7


This short story was the first one I published, so it’s actually my oldest cover.  The story itself won a contest, which required the use of a photo of two rock pillars at sea and a wooden door.  Pretty cool.

Original Version

Woman in water reaching for glow

I saw this image and it was “That’s the story.”  I actually still like the image, but it also feels a little out of date for me now.  Hurts nothing either to shake things up and see if I can get sales by changing it.

You’ll also see here–and you can compare with the new one–on the placement on the text.  I’m pretty close to the top and bottom, as well as the sides.  When Draft2Digital gets out of beta for print books, I’d have to redo this alone for that reason.  There needs to be space for some bleed.  At the time, I didn’t know I was supposed to leave that space.

Also with my newer cover knowledge, I probably would have flipped the image and maybe adjusted it down so her hand is pointing to the lower right corner.

New Version

Woman stands on shore with a lantern

It’s a lot of fun looking for images, especially when I find one that makes me go “Wow!”  This is a wonderful image.

The text is actually from the dress, which looks white, but has shades of gray.  It was tough right around the title, so I duplicated the layer and pulled a dark blue from the sea background.  I shifted that behind the title text and adjusted it slightly to the left.  You can see the shadow of it on the T, but it makes it more readable.

Also complete the two images and where I have the text placed.

You can find the story here.

5 Fiction Writing Links


This week, I have some interesting links for you:

Dave Farland on Avoiding terrible advice.  He has a weekly newsletter, and when he’s judging Writers of the Future, you’ll get a lot of insight into the slush pile.

10 Rules for Writing Fiction: This is not as bad as the title implies.   It’s got lists from many different writers, including some recognizable names.  But scroll down first and look at Roddy Dowell’s, and then Neil Gaiman.  Take it all with a heaping of salt and a laugh.

How to Write a Novel in One Draft:  A writer breaks down Dean Wesley’s Smith’s methods for producing a novel in one draft.

Are you making your writing harder than it is? I’ve heard plenty of writers talk about writing as if it were tortorous.  They’re making it harde than it is.

And to finish up with a smile, The Writer’s Dog.

Cover Refresh #6


Rogue God definitely needed a cover refresh.  It was the first novel I put up, and I had a terrible time finding anything that would work.  I think it takes a lot of time and practice finding the right keyword combinations to find images.

Original Version

Cover for Rogue God, showing a tiki face on a surfboard.

 

When I built this cover, I tried looking for an image of a male main character in a modern fantasy setting.  The main character is Polynesian, so I was trying to find anything like that (nope, not happening).  So I tried the setting.  The book is in an alternate world of Hawaii, and let me tell you…Hawaii is not good for action book covers.  Everything looks very romantic!

It was so problematic, I debated paying for a cover.

New Version

Man faces a giant spider in the woods

Man Magic Fantasy landed me this cover image.  It was on the first search page and it fits the book.  There is a giant spider and a giant centipede in the book.  And hands down, this looks like something from a New York house.  Isn’t this an awesome image?

The image is vertical, so this is only a partial view.  You can see the whole image here.  My name is sampled from the eyes, and the title from the lines on the monster.

You can find the book here.

Researching Fiction and Facebook Settings


It’s not a secret that your internet travels often end up on Facebook.  It’s worse when you’re a writer because we can research some pretty odd things.  I looked one the name of one of the goose-necked cigarette things for a story–and ended up not using it–and Facebook gave me ads for them.  I don’t smoke.

Writer Anne R. Allen reported mentioning a drug in one of her Facebook posts.  She doesn’t take it.  But suddenly she was receiving MAIL from drug companies to get her to buy the drug!

So I thought I’d post something to help cut back on the weird advertising.

Part I

This step you’ll have to repeat about once a month.  The first time will be the worst because you’ll be cleaning out years worth of accumulated data.

  1. Click the upside down triangle in the upper left corner for the menu.
  2. Click SETTINGS.
  3. Click ADS.
  4. Click on YOUR INTERESTS.
  5. Go through each category and delete everything.

I was pretty shocked the first time I did this.  There was a lot of entries, dating all the way back to when I first got on Facebook.  Some of the entries were just plain strange.  Sports teams periodically show up, though I have no idea why.

Part II

You’ll only have to do this once.  As far as I can tell, it doesn’t turn back on.

  1. Scroll to the YOUR INFORMATION section.
  2. In the ABOUT YOU section, turn everything off.
  3. Then clean out the categories section.

When I first did this, it even had my “political affiliation” (which, in my word swapping, I accidentally typed affliction). It also got that wrong.  I turned it off, and its since disappeared from the list altogether.

Part III

Finally, this one will help clean things up overall.  I remember when I first signed up for Facebook, it had me select books, movies, TV, music–all data mining on consumers.

  1. In the top banner, click your NAME.
  2. Click MORE and pick something like BOOKS.
  3. Start deleting.

Part IV

While you’re at it, take a few minutes to review your friends and the pages and groups to see if there’s any you can take off.

I did a mass update myself during the 2016 election and then a second time in the last year.  I unfollowed a lot of people with the following criteria:

  1. Anyone over the top on the politics.  It wasn’t everyone, by the way.  I’m okay with differing opinions as long as it’s civil.
  2. Any writer who appeared to follow me for the purpose of selling books to me.  Not entirely sure why writers think other writers are their market…
  3. Anyone I didn’t recognize or had stopped posting.

It used to be that it was a badge to have a certain number of followers.  But I’ve seen recent traffic that social media is a great way to keep in contact with fans of the books, but it isn’t a great way to find new readers.

The landscape’s changed a lot. Now it’s important to protect yourself from the data mining.

– – –

Next week, we’ll have some more cover refreshes.

No Post for this Week


I’ve been recovering from a cold.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to my cover refreshes soon.

Behind the Scenes of the Book Refreshes


The cover refreshes are my most popular posts—who knew?  So I thought I’d do a behind the scenes on the process.

Why I’m Doing Them

The first reason is that I changed website addresses and it’s wrong in a lot of the books.  I’ve been using a new template with the correct link, an updated bio, and links to my email newsletter.

I also updated the Books By with a more generous list of stories, complete with links.  I learned my lesson on this one—the link has to go to Books2Read, not to a specific vendor.  A book was kicked back by Apple because it mentioned Amazon.

The fantasy template has a sample chapter of Rogue God.  The science fiction one will have Crying Planet.  The only person who’s going to toot my horn is me, so I’d better do it!

I started just with the interiors for the first few books and then I realized the covers needed to be updated too.

Just like a traditional publisher, the covers have to be changed up every few years or they start looking tired and old.  Tastes change.  So did my knowledge.

The First Step

Each book is in its folder, so when I prep for publishing, I check the folder.  Draft2Digital allows me to create an ebook I can post on the other three vendor sites.  But in the early days, I created an Amazon document and a Smashwords document.  So I’m cleaning out those old files.

Then I create folders for:

  • Book Formats (for the epub, mobi and PDFs)
  • Book Masters (for what I used to create the above)
  • Cover Art
  • Submission History
  • Copy Edits

This is just to get everything consistent so I can find files.  Organizing is very important in indie-dom!

Da Cover, Da Cover

Then I go hunting for a cover image.  I’ve been using IStockPhoto lately since they have a huge selection of images.  My focus right now is on the fantasy stories.  Covers with character are trending, so that’s what I’ve been searching for.

It’s hard because I have to figure out what the right keywords are to discover the images.  For the fantasies, I’ve been trying “medieval men” or medieval women.”  Sometimes also “fantasy women” and “fantasy women warrior.”  One story I used “princess warrior” to search.

I pass on a lot because they don’t look like they’re protaging.  It’s one of the things that really starts separating one image from another.  Some stories are stubborn, so I have to keep looking.

If I find something I like but it isn’t quite right, I go to images page and browse through the creator’s other images.  Sometimes I can find one that’s just right.

I’m like a hoarder with the images.  I’ll save a bunch of them to my board until my brain works out what it wants.  Then I download the image and delete the others.  Sort of like pantsing a cover!

I use Adobe PhotoShop Elements to build the cover.  It’s a home use program like PhotoShop, but pared down.  Works fine for book covers.

I use a template I created in the proper size (1600-2400).  Guides are set up in the file for each boarder and at all the one-third points.  The locations of the guides comes from DIY eBook Covers: Design Principles for Non-Designers (How to sell more books, 1).  I know a lot about graphics from my day job PowerPoint days, but from this book, I learned something I did not know.

I’m a conveyor belt for the covers.  It’s 30 minutes or less to build the cover.  I drag the image onto the template.  There’s always an adjustment to put the image in place.  Sometimes I flip it.  Sometimes I make it bigger.  Sometimes I adjust the central image to be right on one of those one-third points (it looks so much more balanced).

Then I sample a contrasting color on the image for the text, update my name.  I try to find a second color and use that for the title.  Save it as a JPG, and it’s done.

Book Interior

This one’s also a conveyor belt on the ebook side.  I have templates for fantasy and eventually science fiction, each with a different sample chapter in it.

Paste in the story.  Make sure the scene breaks end correctly.  Update the copyright information.  Add the cover art information.  And it’s done.

Print books are more complicated. I saved the temple from Amazon.  Then it’s copy the story one chapter at a time.  After that, I have to go through the entire book to match up the chapters and make sure I haven’t skipped any or duplicated any.  It’s tedious enough that it usually takes me a few days.

The Blurb

I always end up putting this one off.  My critical side keeps saying that’s really hard, but for the most part once I get into it, it’s about 30 minutes.  I took a blurb class from Dean Wesley Smith last year—another reason for the refresh.  I thought I was doing pretty good with them…and noooo.  They’re so awful!

The most important thing about the blurb is getting out of fiction writer mode and into marketing mode. I think that’s why my critical side keeps stepping in.  I have to reset my brain to do them.  The key thing is to use the first page or first scene in a short story or first chapter in a novel—not try to summarize the whole story.

Keywords

This is an area where I’ve learned a lot just since February. Which was when I went to Superstars.  One of the writers there, James Hunter, introduced me to the concept of keyword stacking  Basically, you’re on Amazon, filling out the keyword field.  Type keywords until you run out of space.  Then go to the next one.

I also hit Amazon for search terms.  That’s how I came up with the title for the Digital Minimalism book.

And I was still finding two of the 7 categories were too generic.  So I hit the thesaurus for some of the words and add those as well.  That causes me to discover a common theme I have so far: Ambushes.

The blurb and the keywords are saved in the same file.

Publishing

The story goes to Draft2Digital first.  They allow me to create an ebook that I can upload on the other four sites.

Conveyor belt here, too.  Copy/paste the blurb.  Then the keyword strings.  Upload the cover and the Word file.  Save the three flavors of ebooks and publish.

Then it’s off to BundleRabbit, then Amazon, then PublishDrive (thanks for that site, Harvey!), and Smashwords.  I have a list of what D2D and Smashwords publishes to so I don’t duplicate it.

Everything gets recorded on an inventory sheet.  I mark off each book title as I get it up on each of the sites and when I refreshed it.

The most important thing about these refreshes is to keep things as simple as possible.  Finish one and then move on to the next.  With some 40 titles that need to be updated, it’s easy to get overwhelmed!

Cover Refresh #5


This cover refresh is from one of the first three stories I put up. I renamed the story when I indie-published it. The story was originally called Six Bullets. It is a fantasy, but with guns like from the Civil War (a repeating rifle with six bullets). But I figured that people might think it was a Western with the title. So River Flight it became.

The story was published in anthology where I had to use a princess, a boatman, and a lizard.  So I made the princess a boatman (soldier rank), and the lizard was the nickname of bunch of bad guys hunting her.

Cover for River Flight, showing a woman warrior standing on a cliff overlooking water.

First Cover

Like with the previous one, I had a hard time finding good images of women in a fantasy world. I also tried hunting for setting images in lieu of people–but there were not many images of water that would have fit the story.  I finally found this one and went with it.

 

 

 

Cover for River Flight

Second Cover

While looking for a different image for another cover and ran across this one.  “That’s River Flight!” I said.  So I made the cover.  It’s still a good image, but in a way, the image is a little dark in content for where I’m at now.  The story itself is not dark.

 

 

 

Princess holding a sword, alone in the dark woods, and facing danger

Third Cover

This time, I searched images for “princess warrior” because the character is a princess-turned-soldier.  The hard part was my head going, “But she’s not dressed like that.”  Yeah, but if she’s dressed like a warrior on the cover, then it’s not obvious she’s a princess.  Being a princess is a big part of the story, so I hung a lantern on it.

The image itself is much larger.  You can see the original here.  I flipped it and then adjusted where she’s standing to be at one of the one third points to balance it on the cover.  Colors for the sample text are all from her dress.

This one also needed a keyword update, though I had done that back in February with a blurb update.  It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about them in the last few months just doing these refreshes.

Link to where the book can be bought.

5 Writing Tidbits


1

When I build a print book, I go through all the chapters and add a drop cap.  Some of my earliest reading memories is seeing books with illustrated drop caps to start a chapter.  This adds a level of professionalism in the formatting, because not everyone does it.  Here’s how to create one in Word, along with an example of what one is.

2

If you’re traveling for research on a book (or vacation, given it’s summer and time to head for the beach!  Yay!), there’s a great tool for estimating the cost of your food.  It’s GSA per diem rates.  This is what the government uses to determine what to pay their TDY travelers.  The government did a survey a number of years ago to figure out the average cost in all these cities, and that’s the per diem rate.

3

Every time I have to go into my deleted emails to find one, I can’t believe the number I’ve received in the last week.  They seem to be breeding on their own!  So I use a tool called SaneBox.  It sorts the emails into a folder and then gives you a list to go through.  You use the list for a quick review and delete some.  This works great for emails like from CVS Pharmacy where you want to use a sale if you have to make a purchase, but you don’t want to look at each and every one.  I also use the SaneBlackHole because there’s this woman who used my email address for her bank.  It’s been like that for years, so I just send all those into the black hole. This link will give you a discount and me a discount on my renewal.  (Note: If you’ve seen a different product that’s free, stay away.  They’re selling everyone’s name to another company).

4

No…more…adverbs!  Every time I hear someone saying “Avoid adverbs” or “use them sparingly,” I think of Faye Dunaway spouting “No…more…wire…hangers!”  It’s such an overreaction.  I suppose it’s because it’s easy to go through and look for all the ly words, but still… A writer friend had a zero tolerance policy for them and brought his three chapters in for critique.  He was beaming because he’d followed the rules!  And his writing was terrible.  Removing all the adverbs sucked the life out of the story and out of the characters.  Adverbs are just another piece of the story.

5

For us indie publishing, our books can appear on multiple platforms…Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, take your pick.  You can either look your book up on each one, which would be a lot of work, or you can use Books2Read.  It creates a nifty universal link that you can use instead.

 

 

Cover Refresh #4


Hmm. Terribly odd that Cover Refresh #4 had four versions of covers. This book was a hard one to do. It was one of the earliest I did–one of the first three I believe.   I was still figuring out how to look for images and what would actually work.

The first cover did not make it to publication status.  I don’t have it any more–looks like it got lost between two computer replacements.  I observed at cons that a lot of the covers for fantasy books were of the character.  But I quickly found that fantasy images of women are very difficult to search for.  In many of them, the women are wearing essentially gravity defying strips of cloth.

So I went for setting with the first cover.  And that’s when I learned the hard way about colors in the image.  When I tried to sample a color for the titles, I couldn’t put the text anywhere and have it be readable.  So it was a pass on the image and onto the next one.

Cover - Booby-Trap - May 2015

This is the second cover.  The short story has steampunk elements (the booby-trap), so I was trying to find a cover that reflected that.  Pretty much, I put my wanderings around Northern Virginia’s Civil War sites into a story.  It has guns rather than swords.

But I was never really happy with the choice, so off to the second update…

This image came from Dreamstime.

 

Cover for Booby-Trap at Beaver River showing a woman standing on a cliff

This was the third version of the cover, and it looks like a title change.  I’m not sure why I changed it at this point.  It might be that I thought Booby-Trap would make it harder to find.  When I updated the interior a few months back, the title was hard to type.

This one, I think, was a bit dark for where I’m at now. When I originally published this, I was still veering to dark (a legacy of Desert Storm).

The image came from Dreamstime.

 

Woman solider with bow, mountains in bckground

Here’s the new version with a title change (realizing now that I have two collections I have to hit up to change the title of this story…grr…).

Again, I had a lot of problems finding any suitable images.  I ended up choosing between this one and a purple one from the same artist.  I blew up the purple one to have a better look at it and passed on it because of the placement of all the contrasting colors.  I would have had similar problems to the first version of this cover.

So the one I choose was this horizontal one.   I normally go with vertical because the image fits the book better.   Doesn’t do if you have to cut off the primary image because it’s too big.

For my cover, she was facing the wrong way–I wanted her to be looking at the part where you “open” the book.  So flipped the image.

Because the image was larger than the book cover size, I dragged it to fit the cover, and then moved around to one third points.  You can see one of them right were her face is.  After that, I tried samples from her ring, her earrings, her eyeballs and finally settled on the sky for what I used in the text.

I’ve also learned a lot about keywords on these refreshes.  This was one of the books I did a refresh on back in February.  Now I looked at the keywords and thought two sets of them were too generic.  So I went to Google and looked for other words for trapped and booby trap and added those.  I also made a typo putting one in and left the typo in case anyone else does the same thing–and put in the correct spelling, too.

Link to the booksellers for the story.

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Sign up for Superstars Writing Seminars for 2020.  This a workshop for professional writers and a very different environment than a standard writing conference.  I had been planning to attend a marketing conference in November…until I went to the 2019 Superstars.  In just two one hour panels there I got more about marketing than I did in TWO marketing conferences.

My recommendation is that you take the craft portion as well–it is extra, and also to sign up for the VIP seating and the dinner.  The overall conference is about the business side, so the craft portion will give you professional level craft advice.  VIP seating puts you in the front row (two hundred people attended, so this is going to be a benefit for you).  At the dinner, you pick from a list of guests and eat with them.  You may get something from the guest that will help you out.  Last time, my table was a ghost-loving crowd, which I really enjoyed.

Sign up here and use the coupon code LADAMS.  Gets you $100 off, and if I get five, I get in for free, so everyone wins.  There is a payment plan and also discounts for veterans and students.  If you want to go, get in now because the rates go up in September!