One Thousand Questions… — Derek Barton

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As I stated in my last blog, After You Have Climbed The Mountain…, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned about self-publishing and some factors to watch out for and consider how to deal with.

You finally have gotten your manuscript to its glorious, untouchable near-perfect state with edit after edit, beta-readers and even professional reviews (if you have taken my advice and gotten a professional copy editor).

Now what?

At this point you have to decide what direction you will want to take and who you are going to involve with your great work of art.

You may not realize just yet, but you will have a lot of questions ahead that you must take some time with and you will need to make some definite decisions. There are many paths you can take, but the good news is, I didn’t find that there are “wrong” answers to the following questions. I found that there are just different experiences and outcomes you can have with your various choices.

Here is the list of some of the critical questions that we can get into and work through together:

  • Who is going to design your book’s cover art?
  • Are you going to seek out local artists?
  • Are you going to seek out professionals?
  • Are you going to do it yourself?
  • What do you want as a cover?
  • Are you going for an actual scene from your book?
  • If so, which one and which one do you use that won’t give away too much of your story and/or mislead the readers?
  • Which publishing site am I going to use?
  • Do I want to use more than one?
  • Am I going with Amazon/Createspace first?
  • Or am I going with Nook (Barnes&Noble) first?
  • Do I sell my work through Kindle?
  • Do I want just ebooks or do I also want actual hardbound or paperback copies?
  • If I want the actual product in hand, how much do I order?
  • Do I have the money to invest?
  • Do I have a place to keep the inventory?
  • How do I sell my work?
  • What price line do I shoot for?
  • Do I give my work away free at first?
  • Do I do contests, advertising and/or giveaways?
  • What are some of the best ways to market and get my name out there?

I didn’t lie to you when I said that you have many considerations ahead. And NO, I do not have all the best answers and the best techniques. I just have my own experiences and results to share with you.

So going in order of the questions presented I will share my experience and what I decided.  Hopefully, this will give you even more insight and information to which you can make your own choices.

Who is going to design your book’s cover art? Are you going to seek out local artists? Are you going to seek out professionals? Are you going to do it yourself?

I really lucked out here. My cover art for Consequences Within Chaos was designed by a good friend Daniel Thomas of Dark Art Komics, who is also a professional comic book/graphic novel artist. You can check out his work here: Daniel Thomas — Dark Art Komics.

Before Daniel reached out to me, I went with a site you might have heard of called Fiverr.com.  I won’t say outright that this was a bad idea. For anyone who is not familiar with it, the site is set up to offer low cost solutions for editing, cover book art work and many other services from all over the world. Most of their representatives offer $5 packages or higher value deals for their work. I tried it as I am always dirt poor and wanted to see just what $5 cover work I would get.

The artist that I selected asked in email for what I was looking for. I detailed that my novel centered around a royal family in a medieval fantasy prepping for an oncoming war. What I got back was comical if not tragic. She sent me a cover with three soldiers silhouetted in black in a field holding what I am guessing were sub-machine guns. Insert #faceinpalm here! As I stated above, this site I am sure works for some and I am sure if you went with a higher value package you could “get what you pay for”.

Anyway, I know that not everyone knows an artist or has that sort of connection that I just happened to have. In my own research, I found some articles on the web that offered some other possible good resources to find your own cover artist. You could check out the local colleges to search for student artists that might work with you on a cheap basis. You could also go on to websites like Craigslist and advertise for an artist. Or you might go on web forums and speak with other writers to see who might be able to offer you a direction or a lead.

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to be flexible with what you are looking for, be patient and take some time to know what you would like to use on your cover.   The more details you can offer the artist the better. Having several options in mind would also be a good idea. Remember that your cover is your “first impression” with the reader and it definitely has to be eye-catching and stand out, especially when you are competing with thousands of other new books that come out each year.

The biggest lesson to learn for new and first time writers is that there is still a lot of work to do with the novel after you have completed writing it. I have only scratched the surface of the questions I have presented to you, but I will go over more in my next blog.

I will submit to  you as a self-published novelist, that this ride is so worth the work and effort. Take the time to think of your options as this is your baby.  Dress her up nice!

You are in for a helluva ride and an exciting experience. And it will get even easier the next go-around. PROMISE!

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