I’ve been tinkering with some book cover design ideas. A lot of self published authors outsource this task. And I can understand why. But not me. Getting my hands dirty with design is part of the fun for me. My book will be a lot more special this way. I’ve been publishing self-designed materials for years. I can rise to this challenge. Plus, I want my books to have a consistent design. If I’m in control, this will be uncomplicated.
I’ll need two covers – one for the digital book and one for the paperback book. The digital book is fairly simple. A digital cover is a jpg with specific dimensions – easy. The paperback cover is a bit trickier. For that, I’ll need to calculate size, trim, and spine width. There are some templates online, but it will be a little challenging.
I played around with a template this morning which resulted in the picture you see above. This is just a draft. The title is a placeholder. I haven’t decided what the book will be called yet. I don’t even have my characters’ names set in stone. I’m fairly certain I’ll use the background picture you see here. I want the cover to have a high-tech space jungle vibe. Plus, green is my favorite color.
I’ll publish the paperback book through CreateSpace. Their publish-on-demand services are free. They take a cut of sales. They distribute books to all online platforms as well as internationally.
I’ll do the digital distribution myself. Less middlemen means more royalties to me. Or one can hope.
Have you ever wished you could tune out the world around you stealthily? Do you wonder how awesome it would be if no one around knew you were listening to music or podcasts? You need the Gonovate Bluetooth Earbud. This little gizmo is small and discreet. Tiny! The beige version resembles a traditional hearing aid. In your ear, it is smooth. It doesn’t stick out. You plunk it in one ear — left or right. The other ear remains free. If someone interrupts your tranquility, you can hear fine. The rechargeable battery lasts about six hours. The earbud pairs with your smartphone. It has a built-in mic. You can answer calls with it directly.
I love this item so much that I bought it twice! I now have one at work and one at home.
A few folks have asked me about my writing process. Would you like a look under the hood? I thought I’d share a little of how my creative project is ticking along. The process is organic. I’m trying new things, as I go. If it works, I do it more. If it fails, it withers. I also continue to read and listen to a lot of successful writers and take their advice to heart. Part of the journey is exploring a variety of writing and publishing tools. I thus make time for learning and study along the way.
I am a plotter. I’ve outlined my book in ten parts. Each of the parts has a focused narrative purpose as follows.
- Inciting Incident: Create a hook.
- Story Question: Establish the protagonist’s motivation.
- Opposition: Protagonist becomes aware of opposition.
- Theme Reinforced: A mentor, teacher, or close family member reinforces the theme.
- Midpoint: New information shifts the protagonist from reactive to proactive.
- Opposition Strikes: Protagonist becomes aware of antagonist.
- Ramp Up: New information leads the protagonist to the point of no return.
- Black Moment: Antagonist dashes protagonist’s goals.
- Resolution: Protagonist escapes black moment.
- Wrap Up: Tie up loose ends. Finalize story or setup sequel.
I didn’t invent this list. Nor can I attribute it to one source. This is a compilation of dozens of books I’ve read on craft. I’ve cobbled together what I thought would work best for me and my story. Each part contains three scenes. I don’t want to call the ten parts chapters. Each of the three scenes in a part can stand alone. They are more like short stories which flow from one to the next. In fact, I designed them this way. My marketing plan it to release the scenes in some serial way when I promote the book. Scenes range from 1,200-3,000 words. Ok, I may have one that 5,000+ that needs some editing. Length depends on scene needs. The sum of the three scenes together must address the focus of that part as described above.
I start a new scene by crafting a bulleted list. Each scene’s index card holds a list of ten sequential items. The list is rough and not in complete sentences. I use the list as guidance, so the train doesn’t go off the rails.
I’ve left some holes along the way. I’ve rearranged. I’ve deleted entire scenes and started over. An entire part is in the wrong place and needs a rewrite to adjust its sequence. I’ll get there. My target full length book is 40,000-50,000 words. If it’s a little longer that’s fine too.
I try to write at least 500 words per day. Once I get going, I usually can hit 1,000 if it’s not a crazy day. When I finish the rough draft, I will need to spend some time doing rewrites. That effort will add foreshadowing and coherent plot points. When I get to the end, I’ll start the next book. The finished project will be a trilogy. If I can get all three books in the bag in 2017, that would rock. But I’m not beating myself up with unrealistic goals.
Let me know about your process. Share your tips! I could use a few.
I got a tip about Hemingway Editor from The Bestseller Experiment Podcast. I love playing with new writing tools. Hemingway Editor is an editing program. You paste in your writing, and it spits out suggested edits. It tells you when you have a sentence which is too long, has used too many adverbs, or has used the passive voice. It also suggests simpler ways to say things that you may have made complicated. It does this with easy to understand color coding. I ran my first scene through the program. It had 17 errors. Horrible! It’s a nifty tool and simple to use. In fact, I am running this blog post through it right now! I’ll use it to do a first pass edit before I send to a professional editor.
As a busy, jet-set career lad, I’m often too busy to read all the informative tidbits I see online. The internet is an information tsunami. There are a small handful of blogs that I read religiously. Additionally, there are many articles that I see via email or twitter that I’d like to read or research later. How do I stay on top of it all? I have a two-pronged approach that works great. I thought I’d share.
I’m a big fan of Instapaper. This free service adds a button to your toolbar in chrome browser. When I see an article I like, I click the button. Through the magic of internet the next time I open my kindle, the saved articles will be there in normal kindle reading format. All the saved articles are bundled together like a book with chapters. I do this a lot with articles that have info I may need later at home. There is also a mobile Instapaper app which allows you to do something similar from your phone. On a phone, you click the share button and then find Instapaper in the choices, and voila! Off it goes. It’s such a time saver to push things to your kindle that you want to read later. Not only can you read them comfy and warm in bed, but you can also skip all the blinking ads and distractions at the live article webpage.
For blogs that I want to read regularly and cannot miss a post, I use Calibre. This software is designed to be an itunes-like organizational tool for your ebooks. However, I don’t use it this way. The only feature I use is the “fetching news” tool. With it, you can add a blog’s rss feed to be pulled. Calibre will once per day, grab the blog’s latest posts, convert them to a mobi file and push them to your kindle. Each blog appears as a new document. There are a variety of services online which do this for a fee. Calibre is free. I have to be honest. The program is a bit of a pain to setup and figure out. Also once you get it humming, you must leave the program running minimized in the background. If it’s not running, nothing will send. As I only have it doing one task and once per day, it doesn’t take up that much processing power.
I use these two methods together to push about a half dozen or so articles to my kindle per day. I chew through these at night before I go to sleep. Let me know if you have other methods which work for you.
Note: These tools also work with non-kindle e-readers.
Many wonderful things happened in 2016. Yes, I am focusing on the positive!
Dr. P and I had a magical London vacation in the spring. We checked off many bucket list items including seeing the Crown Jewels and listening to Big Ben’s gong. Unfortunately, my audience with the Queen did not take place. Contrary to my apprehension, London was tourist-friendly, easy to get around, and drenched in history. The most enjoyable facet of traveling in Europe versus America is the history. Seeing things you’ve read about – things that have only ever lived in your imagination — come to life is exhilarating. The dusty old memories get a jolt of electricity and sing once again.
We had a long, hot, and dry summer. Global warming is good news to people who live in places where it’s traditionally too cold to go outside for nine months of the year. I had a lot of pool time. We also planned ahead to do a lot of camping. Though I’m often too busy with work in the summer to take time off, we did have a lot of great long weekend camping trips.
In the fall, we did our first road trip. Medical bills had pinched my savings. We needed to plan a vacation on the cheap. We drew a rough circle on the eastern half of the USA, got in the car, and drove. We found hotels along the way with our smart phones. We visited some friends, saw many cool places, and — most importantly — spent a day at Dollywood.
I passed a big milestone in 2016. The book I’d been tinkering with for a handful of years has finally begun! It has life! There are words! I’m actually writing! It was time for me to stop reading every “how to” book, put away my craft supplies making story boards, and start to put words to the page.
I’m looking forward to 2017. I am the architect of my life and am determined to make it the best year yet. I hope to publish my book early in the year. We’ve already made plans to escape the snow and travel with family to Disney in the spring. Maybe there will be a castle tour in central France this year too? I know there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world. The monsters have taken over and are using hate and fear to empower and enrich themselves. I am not blind. I can see. This story has been told for millennia. To stay sane and achieve goals, I can only focus on the things over which I have control. Anything else would be a delusion.
I hope my friends, listeners, and readers are having a wonderful holiday season and will have a bountiful new year.
I’ve decided to experiment with dictation for my novel. Several friends had recommended I try this. Part of my creative writing journey has included listening to a lot of podcasts about writing and indie publishing. Several of them recently touched on dictation and nudged me in that direction.
On episode 12 of The Bestseller Experiment Maria Semple spoke about improving your dialogue by recording yourself speaking and writing what you say. I’m having a particular problem in this area. My dialogue is very cold and matter-of-fact. I need to figure out a way to spice it up a bit.
On episode 70 of the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast youtube writing advice vlogger Michael La Ronn of Author Level Up touched a bit on dictating novels with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Today, I went down a rabbit hole on Michael’s youtube channel. Thank you Michael! His youtube channel is a wonderful resource. I recommend that everyone interested in writing and self publishing subscribe to it.
Michael discussed how it is possible to record oneself – personal journal style – and then import the mp3 to Dragon to be transcribed. In essence, I could write my book on my commute – or walking at the mall! He also clearly showed in his videos how to use Dragon Naturally Speaking with Scrivener. It’s really neat to see the words spit out onto the page faster than any human could possibly type. He has doubled or tripled his word speed by dictation versus typing.
I took the plunge and purchased the software. I’ll experiment and let everyone know how it works out.