So, this is old news by now, but from what I understand NetGalley and Goodreads made some unpopular choices lately, both of which hurt the international book community.
I’ve never used NetGalley. I do the occasional review, but I’m really not much of a book blogger or reviewer. But I’ve heard plenty about NetGalley, and if I were a faster reader, I’d be all in for it. Unfortunately for readers outside the US, I guess they just don’t get stuff from NetGalley like they used to. Which sucks.
Apparently Goodreads is also no longer including its non-US residents in their giveaways anymore, too, which is just double sucks for all the wonderful readers of the wider world, of whom their are plenty.
What the political, practical, and legal reasons are for this, I don’t know, other than that shipping internationally is more expensive–though, I’m sure that there’s more to it than that, especially for Goodreads, since it’s the authors who pay the shipping (unless they’ve changed that policy).
To all my non-US resident reading friends, I’m sorry. It’s really lame. Super-duper lame.
Will this affect me? No, I don’t think so. At least, not beyond hurting people that I care about, so actually yes, I will be feeling some sympathy pain for them.
But I don’t like Goodreads giveaways too much. I don’t hate them either, but I’m not enchanted by them. Now that Goodreads is making authors pay an arm and a leg just to give away a copy of their book, I don’t think I’ll be using that service anyways. Seems ridiculous to me, but I’m not going to rant.
To all book bloggers out there, Goodreads and NetGalley might be giving you the shaft, but I won’t. Anyone who wants a free e-copy of one of my books need only ask. I don’t care if you live in the US or on Mars, I’m just happy to share my work with someone.
But what do you think? Is anyone not surprised by this? Think that it’s justified? Believe that the Trump administration is secretly behind it? Share your thoughts!
A couple of weeks back, James J. Cudney did a review of Cleaving Souls, my second novel. There were quite a few comments praising the cover art, which was lovely to see since I’d created the artwork myself.
A few weeks before that, my cover art for both Cleaving Souls and my debut novel, Home To Roost, won 1st place in a cover-art contest for their respective genres (thriller and horror).
Between those two things, I thought: Hey, maybe I should do a little post about cover art creation.
And so here it is.
Now, first thing’s first: If you are self publishing, the recommendation you will find 100% of the time is to NOT do your own cover art. I think that is good advice. Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Do I care? No.
I didn’t follow that advice for a number of reasons.
I’m a control freak? Could be this.
I genuinely like the idea of producing the artwork on my own.
I know a little bit about how to do that, and am not afraid of messing up.
I have the time to make it look decent.
I don’t have money to spend on professional help at this juncture.
I used a program called “Inkscape.” It’s completely free, and is used for creating Vector Art images. You can get it here, if you want to try it out. Vector Art is a bit different from the stuff you might have worked with in Microsoft Paint. Pro Tip: Unless you are trying to be ironic, do not make any cover art in Microsoft Paint.
I took a design course in college. It was taught by a graduate student, who was fired three-quarters of the way into the semester. Never found out why, but it hasn’t made me feel incredibly confident in the things I learned there.
Regardless, I try and apply the simple principles I learned in that class, as well as things I’ve observed by looking at other book covers. I fiddled around in Inkscape until I’d learned the ropes–or at least some of them. There are plenty of semi-helpful tutorials that can guide you through the things you can’t figure out alone.
I started with a few sketches. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include those here, as they’ve disappeared. They were hideous anyways, and not incredibly interesting, so I think we’ll manage to get along without them.
Once I had some ideas, I got to work in Inkscape. Mind you that my ideas had to be tempered by my abilities. Therefore, a more simple design was essential.
For those who haven’t read Home To Roost, it’s based on a the true story of a chicken my family owned about a decade back. Yes, a whole novel based on a chicken. It’s rather serious, too. Deals with a number of different issues, and has an ending that’s darker than people often expect. Those were all things I wanted captured in the cover art.
Without much further adieu, below are the different drafts of the cover art for Home To Roost, with a bit of commentary in the captions. They are listed in order of their creation, so as to give you an idea of how it evolved.
So there you have it. The one part of this process I haven’t yet mentioned is my wife. I saved her for last, because she’s the most important. Not every idea she has is golden, just as not every idea I have is any good. But we can bounce ideas between us, shoot down one another’s bad ones, and let the best ones rise to the top.
What do you think? Anybody prefer one of the earlier cover images?
There’s a principle of economics called “Sunk Costs.” The way I understand it is this: even if you put a bunch of time into something, if the end product isn’t going to be worthwhile, then ditch it. This can be painful because of all the time you’ve already invested, which will now essentially go to waste.
Unfortunately, knowing about sunk costs and the math behind it doesn’t make it any less painful.
Earlier this year, I was working on a space opera. I had mixed feelings about it. Writing was going slow in places, but I persevered. I finished it, and then… chucked the whole thing. 120,000 words. But it wasn’t good enough, I won’t publish something that isn’t good enough.
The flaws were too deep for mere editing to get them out, but I plan on coming back and rewriting the story someday. Just not today.
Well, I’m having to scrap something else right now. I’m 30,000 words into a novel, and I realized that I’m telling it the wrong way. I need to change the point of view, get deep into one of my character’s heads, get rid of a bunch of the cast, and then change the tone of the story. Once again, too radical for edits to fix. Just start from the bottom.
It’s painful, but I believe it to be the right call. Time will tell.