Kay: Keeping It Fresh Forever

Photo by Leonardo Quatrocchi from Pexels

My long-term project (probably years long, the way I’m going) is to read all the books on the bookshelves in my office and then afterwards, move them, and eventually the shelves, out of the house. I’m going to need the space for other things.

The first book I assigned myself was a Virago Modern Classics reprint. These are books by female authors, originally published at other houses, some from many decades previously. Virago has published its Modern Classics imprint since the 1970s, and the [many] books I own are all from this period. So far, they’ve been rather hit-or-miss in terms of how well they’ve held up to #MeToo and #TimesUp sensibilities. Continue reading

Kay: The Juggling Act

Circus tapestry by Ambesonne

I’m not one for multi-tasking. For me, it doesn’t work. I can toss junk mail while I’m on hold, but I have no illusions that I can do two tasks at once and do justice to either.

So while I’ve sometimes envied authors their giant traditional publishing contracts, I’ve never envied them their workloads: the writing of a complete book in three months, during which time they make revisions on the previous book, proof the galleys of two books ago, and plot the next book. I could do all that sequentially, but not concurrently.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself, as an indie author, in a similar situation.

I finished my three-book series about the haphazard CIA agent—when? Last winter? It’s only been months, but it feels like years ago. I have the revision letters of all three books from my dev editor sitting on my hard drive. I have begun changes on the first book. I’m about 10% in on that one. Continue reading

Jilly: Cover Question–Which Way Should My Heroine Face?

I’m working on the cover design questionnaire for The Seeds of Power (Christal’s book), and I’d appreciate your advice. I know she should be on the cover, but should she face the reader or should we see her back?

We’ve been talking a lot about covers lately. The choices are different depending on the sub-genre and the flavor of the book itself. It’s harder than you might think to tempt the reader to take a closer look while also giving them a clear promise of the kind of story you’re offering. For a taste of the challenges involved, click here to read more about covers for Jeanne’s complex, brain-teasing demon paranormal series; here for Kay’s attempts to update the cover of her Las Vegas contemporary caper; here for Justine’s historical suspenseful adventure and here for Nancy’s historical elegant battle of wits.

My books are epic fantasy romance, so they have to look historical but with a legendary-adventure kind of feel. They are predominantly romance, and the primary character is the heroine. So I know there will be castles and horses and Princess Bride-type stuff in the background. I’m clear that I want a person (the heroine) on the cover, if I can make that work given the challenges of working with stock photography.

What I can’t decide is this: assuming I can make it work in practical terms, should the heroine have her face or her back to the reader? There are excellent examples of both styles within the genre. I’m thinking the pros and cons are as follows:

Continue reading

Jeanne: Registering a Copyright

I just registered the copyright for my second book, The Demon’s in the Details, and I have a few thoughts to share, along with a public service announcement.

  1. You can tell this is a government site, because you have to type the same info over and over.
  2. Even though you have use a separate ISBN for paperbacks versus ebooks, there is only one spot to enter an ISBN.
  3. At the end, you have to choose between uploading an electronic file and sending in a hard copy. I’ve read numerous discussions on various self-published author boards about which is appropriate if your book is available both as a paperback and an ebook. I opted for an electronic upload rather than paying postage to mail in a physical book.
  4. Once you register a copyright, it can take months to get your Certificate of Registration.. My certificate for The Demon Always Wins took about four months, but one of my chaptermates at my RWA chapter said her most recent certificate took fourteen months to show up.
  5. Given the recent Supreme Court decision that you must have that certificate in order to file suit against a copyright infringement (like, say, any of the million pirate sites out there), it’s probably a good idea to do it sooner rather than later.

And here’s my public service announcement: Continue reading

Jeanne: About That Cover…

Recently, a friend messaged me about a bookstore in a nearby town that she thought would be willing to stock my book(s), so last Tuesday I went to visit New & Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood, OH.

I explained why I was there and the proprietress said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

I pulled a copy of The Demon Always Wins from the small box of books I’d brought with me and held it out to her.

demon_wins_1500--POD

“That’s a problem,” she said. Continue reading

Jilly: Free Shouldn’t Mean Gimcrack

How many of you download free books, stories or novellas from BookBub, or the Zon, or as a reward for signing up for an author newsletter?

Do you expect the quality of the writing to be worse because it’s free?

Stand by for a rant.

I’m on the mailing list of an author whose books I really like. She’s not prolific, but her stories are quality and well worth waiting for. I had a newsletter from her recently, announcing that her new novel would be published shortly. Excellent, I thought. I read on to discover that she’d written a novella-length story in the same world as the upcoming book, and that she was offering it to her mailing list as a free download to thank us for our engagement and to whet our appetites for the new release.

I couldn’t have been happier. I downloaded the free book, made a pot of coffee and got comfortable on the sofa with my Kindle. For about five minutes, tops.

I knew the novella-length story had started life as a character sketch, a discovery exercise to help the author find her way into the next big book. That’s cool. I love those little extras, behind-the-scenes glimpses and secret nuggets. That’s what I was hoping for. Perhaps that’s what it became in the end. I’m not sure, because I abandoned it after skimming the first dozen pages.

I’m not sure whether the author did just dump her discovery notes into Vellum without any thought or editing, but that’s how it read to me. What I read reminded me of the famous Mark Twain quote: “I apologize for such a long letter – I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

Continue reading

Nancy: A Rose by Any Other Name*

If I had to take out a personal ad to describe my current writing dilemma, it would go something like this: Multi-genre author with deep-seated issues around choosing book titles seeks readers with sharp, intuitive minds to help choose an appropriate marketing title for a book going out on submission.

You can probably see where this post is going. You, dear readers, are the sharp, intuitive minds in question. A few weeks ago, I didn’t realize I’d need your help, as I was merrily skipping down the primrose path with my beloved working title for a soon-to-be-submitted story nestled safely in my blue and yellow basket. (Yes, metaphorical Nancy is a weird amalgam of different fairytale characters. And she skips. Just go with me on this one.)

Then approximately a week and a half ago, I was on a video chat with Jennie Nash, one of my writing mentors, and a few other people when the conversation turned to submitting manuscripts to agents and editors. Jennie mentioned the importance of having an email subject line that captures the recipient’s attention. Since most query emails will have the prescribed subject line “Query: Book Title,” that means a marketing book title – without the benefit of a full book cover to convey genre and tone – might carry more weight than the final title on a published book. The title needs to convey Continue reading