Tag Archives: cover design

Indie Or Traditional: The Cost Of Publishing

I’ve been going down the road of licensing the rights to print the lyrics to an old Louis Armstrong song from the 1920s. It’s an interesting set of hurdles, and if you ever want to use lyrics in your book I recommend starting with Helen Sedwick’s article How To Use Lyrics Without Paying A Fortune Or A Lawyer over on The Book Designer. Like most things in indie publishing, this will probably cost some money. That’s okay. That’s a part of indie publishing. It’s what I signed on for when I decided to publish my books this way.

I’ve noticed a theme in a lot of writing advice blogs. There seems to be some weird desire to encourage people to go into indie publishing with the assumption that there isn’t any overhead and that indie publishing is essentially cost-free. A vocal part of the community likes to rally behind the idea. I hate it when I see this. Not only is it an outright lie, it does a disservice to the whole idea of indie publishing. When an unfinished, poorly edited, or badly designed book goes to print it affects everyone. The lack of quality control is cited all the time as a major reason why so many readers are very hesitant to read indie titles.

Publishing02
Men with printing press, circa 1930

Doing It Right™ cost money. There is overhead in everything. When you become an indie writer you become a small business. You can’t do it alone. You need to hire an editor, you need to hire a designer, you need to hire an artist. You’re going to pay for ISBNs. You’re going to pay for marketing. You’re going to pay for print copies. Often, the publishing advice you read online skips over these details. But if you want to make a quality product (and you do) then you have to come to grips with the reality that it’ll cost money.

Traditional publishing does provide a way out. It doesn’t require much in the way out of pocket costs. But instead of money it takes a lot of your time and hard work. You need to write queries, polish synopsis, meet and greet with agents, and submit over and over and over again, and then weather the storm of rejections. It’s hard, but it’s (mostly) free.

Publishing03
Hoe’s six-cylinder rotary press from the 1860s

The choice for any writer is to decide which path they are interested in. Both provide ways to share your story with the world, but both are hard work and require different types of out of pocket expenses. It’s up to you to decide which path is right for you. For The Bell Forging Cycle, I chose to go the indie route. For me, it was a matter of control. I didn’t want to surrender the control of the cover design and interior layout to someone else. I have a very specific vision for my series from cover to cover and I wanted to see that through to the end.

So, what if you’re not willing to deal with traditional publishers (and there’s a whole slew of reasons why you’d want to go your own route) but the thought of putting down money is terrifying or out of the question? What options do you have? Why not consider one of the following:

  • Kickstarter

    Crowd funding through Kickstarter is a great option. There’re a lot of writers who have had great success kickstarting their project. If you have a decent social media presence this isn’t a bad way to go. In a lot of ways, you can use this to pre-sell your book, and pay for the necessaries, without a lot of out of pocket expenses. Make sure when you put together your Kickstarter pitch you put as much effort into the pitch as you do your book. People want to see you as excited and engaged as you want them to be, a good presentation is important to that end.

  • Partnerships

    This is another option. Instead of paying people up front, why not offer to split the profits with other professionals. So editors could get a percentage of your sales, as would the designers, and artists, and so on. This is a bit more difficult to manage as it requires a lot of transparency and trust, but it’s a good way to have everyone profit from a good book. You essentially build a team of people who want to see a successful book and the more folks you have to help you market your work the better.

  • Crowdsource

    I tend to shy away from crowdsourcing professionally, as it is essentially spec. work for no pay. (See No!Spec for why this is troublesome.) However, I feel like I’d be remiss not mentioning it here as there are a lot of authors who have found success thanks to crowdsourcing platforms like Wattpad, Worthy of Publishing, and Figment. It tends to be a long road, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there and allow a community to give you feedback as you write it’s a good way to work without a lot of out of pocket expense.

Indie or traditional, the choice ultimately is yours. Decide how you best want to represent your manuscript. Know the choices you have and be willing to understand and accept the costs be they financial, chronometric, or both. In the end, I encourage you to focus on quality. Quality matters and your readers will thank you.

Red Litten World Cover Reveal

One Week Until Red Litten World’s Cover Reveal

We’re down to seven days. It’s coming, the cover reveal for The Bell Forging Cycle, Book III: Red Litten World is just around to corner. So mark your calendars! There’s going to be a launch event running all over the web June 4th, 5th, and 6th. If you’re a blogger and want to participate in the Red Litten World Cover Reveal you can sign up here. (There’s even a little giveaway for hosts.)

Along with the reveal, one lucky reader will be able to win a Bell Forging Prize Pack which includes signed copies of both The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road, as well as a Bell Caravans patch, all the swag, and a $50 Amazon gift card!

If you can’t wait until next Thursday to see the cover, consider signing up for my newsletter. Subscribers will get a preview a few days early! Sign up today →

Friday Link Pack 05/01/2015

Happy Friday! It’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

Writing:

A Question About Editing
Interesting post from Hugh Howey about editing, today’s reader, and the modern expectation of perfection in writing.

The State Of Storytelling In The Internet Age
A quick overview covering how amazing things are to how much of the industry is in flux. It’s now so much easier to reach so many people, and the internet has opened up so many new channels for creators, but new struggles have emerged.

Little Triggers
I am wary of the phrase “trigger warning”, and I’m glad to see Neil Gaiman is with me. I highly recommend checking out this post from his new book Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. In this excerpt Neil explores how fiction is supposed to push us, teach us things, and help us grow.

The Story You Want to Read
Fellow author and writing group pal, Michael Ripplinger, explores a specific story arc—the return of an ancient evil—that attracted him to writing. It’s always fun recognizing these sort of things in our writing.

A CthulhuCon Debriefing
Last weekend we didn’t have a Friday Link Pack because I was heading down to Portland for CthulhuCon. How did it go? Fantastic! I break it down in this post, hit the highlights, and share a few pictures.

Art:

Artist Transforms The 12 Zodiac Signs Into Terrifying Monsters
I love monsters. Who doesn’t? So I was on board when I saw Damon Hellandbrand‘s take on the familiar zodiac signs. Libra is my favorite.

Catch My Fade – Seamus Conley
So one of Kari-Lise and my favorite artists is Seamus Conley. There’s something so emotional in every one of his pieces. His latest series, Catch My Fade, currently being show at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, California is nothing short of amazing.

Re-Covered Books Contest: ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
I really enjoy these recover contests that the Fox in Black does occasionally. They’re really handy for indie authors to get some good ideas on cover designs, plus you always find some really beautiful pieces. April’s contest for re-covering Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea is no exception.

Random:

The Dezeen Guide To Brutalist Architecture
Not everyone is a fan of brutalism, but I am. There’s something so combative about the buildings, something arrogant. I love the brash unapologetic retro-future style. In this article Dezeen Magazine explores brutalism architecture, and discusses how we should preserve the legacy.

It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate” Armor. Because It Would Kill You
I think we’re all well aware at how ridiculous (and often sexist) “boob plate” armor can be, but armor’s job is safety, and in this article for Tor.com writer Emily Asher-Perrin gives us the best reason to avoid it: it would kill the wearer. [Thanks to Spencer for sharing this.]

18 Delightfully Artistic Vintage STD Posters
These vintage PSAs from the U.S. Army shows their focus of stamping out VD. They are amusing, terrifying, and well… a bit strange. It’s interesting how it seems to point the finger at women and not the male soldiers who were the guys actually doing most of the sleeping around. Ah, good ol’ sexism solidly alive and well in postwar America.

The Wikipedia Entry For Guam, Retold As A YA Novel
The fake-wikipedia article you always wanted to read. Tropes delightfully abound. [Big thanks to Christine for sharing this one. Hilarious stuff.]

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

The Hyphen War
“The Hyphen War (in Czech, Pomlčková válka; in Slovak, Pomlčková vojna—literally “Dash War”) was the tongue-in-cheek name given to the conflict over what to call Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist government.”

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Other Gods
Barzai the Wise and his disciple Atal climb a mountain to gaze upon the gods of the earth and discover more than they bargained for.

Gif of the Week:

gotta go fast!

Alexander Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling With the Angel, 1865

Friday Link Pack—End Of The Year Edition (2014)

This will be the last Link Pack for the year which means it’s time for the End of the Year Edition! I compile the best loved links I’ve shared over the year into one big post! As always, some of these I’ve mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s see what you liked:

My Most Popular Posts Of 2014:

Building A Better Book Cover
I wax poetic on cover design, what makes a well designed cover, and I offer tips on how to improve your own covers.

A SpoCon Debriefing
Pics and stories from my first convention. I had a blast at SpoCon and I am looking forward to the conventions in 2015.

Old Broken Road Cover Reveal
The post where I reveal the cover of my latest novel Old Broken Road. I love doing these. Expect a reveal for Red Litten World coming very soon!

Most Clicked Writing Links Of 2014:

The Two Most Powerful Behaviors Of Successful Writers
It’s no surprise that San Francisco writing coach Lauren Sapala shows up as a most-clicked. In this post Lauren discusses two behaviors—focus and boundaries—used by writers to get things done. Invaluable advice, both are tough to master but critical for personal success.

Designing A Book Cover Is No Laughing Matter, Okay It Is
In my post Building A Better Book Cover I reference this TED talk by acclaimed cover designer Chip Kidd. It gets a lot of love, and for good reason, Kidd isn’t only a great designer he’s a fantastic entertainer. Easily one of my favorite TED talks.

Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings
I loved this piece from composer Royal Teague on creation and the creative struggle and you did too! It’s very much worth a read.

5 Reasons I Switched to Scrivener For All My Writing
It’s no secret I love Scrivener. It’s my go-to software for all my writing. In this post, author and speak Michael Hyatt goes into details why he switched to Scrivener.

Most Clicked Art Links Of 2014:

The Art of Kuldar Leement
I’m a huge fan of Kuldar Leement’s concept artwork, so much so I featured him as a Visual Inspiration post. He has a great sense of composition and it really helps carry his vision.

Portraits by Dave Bastian
Design and illustrator Dave Bastian does portraits, but they aren’t your typical portraits. (If you’ve seen my twitter profile image then you’ve seen Dave’s work, but his Instagram account really shows off his incredible imagination and skill. Check out my portrait here.

Einstein’s Camera
Adam Magyar takes stunning motion photos using custom built cameras. The results are shockingly beautiful. If there’s one link you click today, make it this one. (Thanks to Erik Hedberg for the tip.)

Most Clicked Random Links of 2014:

Famous Paintings Of Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Ranked By How Much Their Actions Resemble Slow-Dancing
I love the internet. (Thanks to Gus for sharing this way back when.)

David Foster Wallace Was Right: Irony Is Ruining Our Culture
My friend Ray Frenden shared this Salon article way back in April, I liked it then and so did you! It’s real good. An honest look at irony’s effect on our modern culture.

The Seattle Archipelago
Jeffrey Linn, a campus planner at the University of Washington, has created a fascinating map showing what my hometown would look like based on a 240′ rise in sea level should all of the world’s ice sheets melt. Someone should write a book about this… hummm…

One Of The Solar System’s Largest Volcanoes Is Right Here On Earth
Tamu Massif sits about a thousand miles off the coast of Japan and it rivals even the mighty Olympus Mons on Mars. Solid work Ring of Fire.

Lovecraft Story Of The Year:

At The Mountains Of Madness
It’s no surprise this was the most clicked Lovecraft story. Not only is it one of the most famous, it’s also one of the best. So settle in and follow the doomed Antarctic Expedition as they explore what lies in the mountain range beyond the ice. When you’re done I recommend checking out Thug Notes’ analysis, good stuff.

Animated GIF Of The Year:

DLX3EUB

A SpoCon Debriefing

K. M. Alexander at SpoConHere’s my first con report! This last weekend I spent my time slinging books at SpoCon 2014 in Spokane, Washington. And what a weekend it was! The con was great and full of friendly people, great guest speakers, and amazing costumes. I’ve been to a few conventions before but this was my first as a sponsor/vendor. I’m excited to see what comes of it.
SpoCon Cosplayers!

Before I delve into highlight, I want to thank everyone who came by the booth and picked up a copy of The Stars Were Right. I sold way more than I expected and I hope everyone who grabbed a copy enjoy’s Wal’s story! Extra thanks to those folks who came back before the con was even over to tell me they were already reading and really liking the book. You made this author’s day.
SpoCon Cosplayers!

Some highlights:

  • Discussing Lovecraft his writing, influences, and style with a number of attendees. I could do this forever.
  • Meeting new people, fellow authors, and the supportive SpoCon team.
  • Seeing all the cosplayers. As you can see from my pictures they were great. I’ll admit that I came into this with a bit of a bias towards bigger conventions. I didn’t expect the level of quality I saw. I was glad to be proven wrong. Incredible work by everyone.
  • Hanging out with my buddy Josh Montreuil. The guy is a talent. Expect some rad stuff from him in the future.
  • Talking with a veteran author about the publishing industry, writing, and all his experience over the years. As a guy just starting out it was great to talk with someone with so much experience. I found the whole conversation really encouraging.
  • Seeing my rad little sister experience her first sci-fi/fantasy convention. She came as Dave Strider from Homestuck on Friday and as Spine from Steam Powered Giraffe on Saturday—her costumes were incredible and she got tons of reactions as Spine. (You can see her below.)
  • Watching two guys try and figure out what they loved about the cover of The Stars Were Right and why they were so attracted to it. While I didn’t agree with their conclusion, I did appreciate their kind words. I’m pretty particular about cover design and my thoughts are pretty straightforward, I even wrote a whole post about it.
  • Casual Thorsday.
  • Of course, Josh Montreuil’s Silver Laced Polish Tyrannosaurus. (I look forward to more of these.)

SpoCon Cosplayers!I’m still coming down from the high of it all. It’s exhausting but really fun. Glad I went, as with everything I learned a lot. Now to decide which convention comes next…

My Top 5 Posts

Dr. Robert Goddard at Clark University
Dr. Robert Goddard at Clark University – via Flickr

I have been busy. Real busy. So while keep plugging away I figured in the interim it’d be fun to visit my top 5 blog of all time. So here we go, starting with number five:

5. Building A Better Book Cover

I have spent the better part of 15 years working as a designer. So at the beginning of 2014 I shared some of my knowledge on what it takes to make a great book cover. I got a lot of positive feedback on this one so it’s no surprise it made the top 5 list.

4. Scrivener

Scrivener is my go-to writing software for a number of reasons. Instead of rehashing on others wrote in this post I linked to some of my favorite articles about the best word processing software on the market.

3. Barnes & Noble Closing 200+ Stores

I found it amusing that this was on the list. I’m not a book industry site, nor am I a breaking news blog, yet for whatever reason this post got a lot of traction with you readers.

2. “The Stars Were Right” Cover Revealed!

This one wasn’t a surprise. I love doing cover reveals, and clearly my readers do as well. (You can see Old Broken Road‘s cover reveal here.)

So that covers the top four. The number one blog post was far and away my biggest hit scoring nearly five times the amount of traffic than The Stars Were Right‘s cover reveal and more visits than all the previous posts combined…

1. My New Whiteboard: Scapple

Back in December of last year while I was starting work on Red Litten World I picked up and began to play with Scapple. I wrote a quick review which was then re-posted by the good folks over at Literature & Latte, thanks to them traffic exploded! Since going live the post has garnered views from thousands of visitors and I still get occasional hits to this day.

So there you have it, from cover design to Scrapple, the top five posts in the last two years.A big thank you to all you readers. I really appreciate the support, your comments, and everyone’s encouragement. It makes doing this fun. Here’s to two more years, more posts, and many, many more books!