Judging a Book By Its Cover

There’s a funny story about the profile on my book cover. Years ago, one of my work colleagues decided to be silly and Xerox his face. (Let’s be glad he chose the face – could have been worse!) The picture came out so blurred and creepy that you couldn’t tell who he was. I actually saved that piece of paper and years later showed it to my graphic designer to use as the inspiration for the profile on Free of Malice.

Sweet Sam Face Artwork (1)-1

Some people thought the profile shot was of Thomas Barnette, my college friend who created the book’s theme song, Let Me Breathe. They do look similar, and yes his CD cover is a profile shot, but it’s serendipity. I actually hadn’t considered that we both used profile shots until I put the two side by side, and how interesting that they face each other! Now, if you ask Thomas, he may still swear it’s him.  

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 2.23.58 PMAs you can see, the Advance Reader Copy of Free of Malice had only the profile, and the rest of the cover was black. My thinking was that in the age of so many “busy” covers, wouldn’t a plain one stand out? But then, after receiving advice from several people (Candy Brakewood, Lynn Epstein, and Esther Levine at Book Atlanta to name a few), I decided to add more color.

The bullseye was a natural choice since it was already part of the website design and is referenced twice in the book. First, the main character, Laura, takes shooting lessons at Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range and practices with a target. Secondly, as her attacker fled, she got a glimpse of what looked like a bullseye on the back of his shirt.

Jill Dible of Jill Dible Design created two new cover designs (options A and B below). I decided to post the options on social media and ask for feedback. Surprisingly, the results were nearly 50/50. Based on several comments, I had a stronger preference for Option A with the red bullseye because it “pops” online and in person.

CoverPhoto A-BOne comment I did take to heart from the voting was that the cover doesn’t fully describe the book, and I suppose that would be a challenge for any novel. It’s true, the cover doesn’t portray Laura’s therapy and healing, her trauma and suspicion, the hypothetical legal case or the racial tension or the fact that it’s based on a true story (my own). But maybe the eerie profile and the colorful bullseye will be enough to intrigue you to take a peek inside.

What do you think of the new cover? Let me know here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Intrigued? Download the FREE digital sneak peek of chapter one, and check out the Free of Malice trailer.

Free of Malice: New Cover Reveal

Free of Malice: New Cover Reveal

I’m thrilled to share the new cover for my upcoming novel, Free of Malice. 

I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the poll on social media. I appreciate your feedback and support.

Without further ado, drum roll please!

Continue reading Free of Malice: New Cover Reveal

10 Little-Known Tips for New Authors

10 Things Every First-Time Self-Publishing Author Should Know

I love late night talk shows. (I’m staying up late to catch Clooney on Jimmy Kimmel.) I adored Leno’s monologues (still miss him, though I marvel at Jimmy Fallon’s talent), but Letterman had the trademark on the Top 10. So as a tribute to late night icons and to the upcoming launch of my first novel, I thought I would share my Top 10 Tips for Writing a Book.

  1. Create and pay for your own ISBN # so you stay in control of distribution.
  2. Have a few honest friends give you early feedback—it’s hard to judge your own work. You know the old saying, “It’s hard to tell if your baby’s ugly.”
  3. Print on demand  so you can make early tweaks.There are always more typos than you think are humanly possible! CreateSpace is a great option.
  4. Don’t go to layout until you are sure you have no more changes. I mean absolutely, positively, 100%, no more changes sure.
  5. Find the right PR firm. The best way to test them is to see who can produce a good media kit and how many current media contacts they have.
  6. Learn the world of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Understanding these platforms for growing your brand is critical.
  7. Do spend the money on a proper website. It’s your home base and your identity.
  8. Have other projects or work that balance your focus on your book and allow for a fresh perspective.
  9. For reviews, Foreward/Clarion and Midwest Book Review seem to be the most Indie friendly, in my experience.
  10. And most importantly, remember that some of the most famous authors have a pile of early rejection letters. Don’t let it discourage you!

While writing Free of Malice was a labor of love, as a first time self-published author, I have learned that writing the book is just the beginning. Taking the manuscript to final product, distribution and promotion are just as important. Hopefully my Top 10 tips will make the journey a little easier for others who are just starting out. Fellow authors, what tips would you add to the list?