Getting It Right

I’m a perfectionist, whether I’m writing, creating art, learning how to consistently bat over .300 when playing softball, or being an all-around descent person. I’ve been this way all my adult life, and it was the force behind my determination to be an excellent wildlife artist waaaaaaaaay back in the 1980s. I began painting whitetail deer in the hopes of becoming a magazine and book illustrator, but my deer looked cartoonish (I was a cartoonist at the time!), so I painted hundreds of deer from 1983 to 1987 just to get it right.

Gouache on paper, 1985
Watercolor and acrylic on board, 1987

I’m a perfectionist with my books too, which is why I pulled my Green Crystal series from their Amazon home in 2015. Sometimes an author (and artist) has to say “Good enough” and get on with the next project. But sometimes that decision isn’t “Good enough” after all.

I’ve spent plenty time posting why the Green Crystal books weren’t good enough to stay in circulation, so I won’t repeat all that here. Let me summarize, however, that I’m pleased with what going back to the drawing board with them two years ago and starting anew has brought to light.

Although the first five books of the 8-book series are short stories, I spent a lot of time and TLC on character development that elevated their personalities and made me an acting child psychologist of sorts since my characters are 14 years old. And since they’re part of the overpopulated YA book department, they need to stand up well against their contemporaries.

If all goes as planned, I’ll have the first three books of my Green Crystal series available at the end of the year. I tweaked their covers again, so I’m sharing the art of the first two books—number three is still in progress.

Night of the Hell Hounds ebook cover
Day of the Fairies ebook cover

If I miss the mark on the release date, it’s only because the perfectionist in me found a good reason to hold up the publication. And that reason will be: to get it right.

ASIN: B00B1UOE7S Cover Reveal

I’m putting the finishing touches on the second e-book of the Green Crystal fantasy series, which stars Nick Andrews, a 12-year-old boy whom I featured in my previous post. The book, “Day of the Fairies,” is another short story, and it replaces the following books that I published at Amazon from 2013 to 2016:

Trespassing: The Ridgewood Chronicles, Book 2

and Trespassing: A Vree Erickson Novel

The novel moved to another series of books. (More about that in a future post.) As for the new book, I’m aiming for a Halloween release, so stay tuned for more info.

So, before I run off to put on my editor’s cap, here’s the new cover:

Day of the Fairies: A Ridgewood Chronicles Short Story

Okay, time for me to run. Peace, love, and good health, everyone!

Judging Books By Their Covers

I am trying to understand the reasoning behind the popular talk nowadays among indie authors about how to best present our book covers. Most of the how-to info is very complicated, and most of the advice ends with “Let a professional do it.” The idea is to hook the potential reader before they look inside the book.

I’m an old-school reader and buyer of books that began in the 1960s. Many of my purchases back then were paperbacks because they were affordable. Even in the 1970s when I entered the workforce and had a weekly income, I still bought paperbacks. So did my friends. Often, we went book hunting on Saturday afternoons, hitting the malls in search of our next read.

The covers on paperback books (and hardcovers) were simple in design. It was often the title that caught my eye. If it sounded interesting, I would flip the book over and read the back cover copy. That’s what either prompted me to buy the book or return it to the shelf.

Most online bookstores today have a feature equivalent to the old back cover copy. It’s the short blurb off to the side of the book cover on display. I call it the “What is this book about?” feature. And it’s here where an author either convinces me to buy their book or prompts me to continue browsing.

Beautiful, fancy, exotic book covers and plain, two-tone, neutral ones have never prompted me to buy a book. It has always been the “What’s this book about?” feature.

Look at this Stephen King paperback of The Shining from one of its first runs.

The book’s title attracted me because I asked, “What does the title mean?” The back cover copy gave me a clue and whetted my curiosity. Until then, I had never read a book by King. Neither had my friends. I ended up liking the story so much, I bought his two prior releases, ’Salem’s Lot and Carrie, on a gamble that I would like them too. I did. So did a million other readers.

Compared to today’s indie writing market, if King was an unknown author selling his books at Amazon, and he used the above cover, would you buy it?

Look at the replacement cover of The Shining a few years later during the movie release.

Would you still want to buy it?

I don’t think it’s wise to worry about eye-catching book cover design. I think we should continue to strive at writing as well as we can and to write a compelling “What’s this book about?” feature. If your story is captivating and entertaining, then people will notice, even if you’ve wrapped it in a brown paper bag.