Monday, December 30, 2013

Working on a Cover Image

According to Mark Coker's Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, a good cover image can be the difference between a successful book and a so-so book.

The Smashwords Blog made an interview of R.L Mathewson (RLM) back in July 12, 2012 and they talked about her experiences with writing and selling romance books. One of her books, Playing for Keeps, came out in February 2012. For more than four months her sales were only a few copies per day (personally, if that happened to me, I'd be ecstatic). Around the end of May, she changed her book cover and just over a week later, her sales began to increase. About a month later, her sales skyrocketed.

Image copied with permission from the Smashwords blog entry

Like RLM, I'm thinking of making my own covers. Not because I can but because I can't afford the price of having someone make one for me. If I can find someone to make my cover for a song (I can sing but I'm no Josh Groban), I'd have it done. RLM said she did it by taking several images and using Photoshop—or some other image editing software—to mash them all together.

So, why am I not doing the same? Why not just lift photos from the internet and edit them to come up with a cover? For free? I'm almost sure there are people who do it that way. The problem with doing it is that I might be committing copyright infringement.

A lot of photos on the internet are free for the taking and a lot are owned by people who don't want you to use them...or expect you to pay for using them. My problem is: 1.) I can't tell if it's free or not. 2.) If it's not free, I can't afford to pay for it. Then again, there are people who don't want you using their pictures, period.

For Legend of the Moon, I've been looking for two particular pictures that I want to edit and put together. One is a large moon, and the other is the silhouette of a knight who would be standing in front of the moon. His pose had to be simple but suggestive of a strong and confident man who had gone through trials and triumphed.

I found them but they're not free and they're on two different image-selling websites. I checked out the sites and discovered they don't sell images per piece. You sign up for a year's membership and you can download a fixed number of pictures. Since the pictures are on two separate websites, I'm going to be purchasing about a dozen images, of which I only need two. And the membership is not cheap (at least for me).

So, what am I going to do?

For the moon, I don't expect much difficulty in finding a free photo. The knight is going to be a bit more problematic. I had a particular pose in mind and finding the image I need has been a challenge.

I came up with the idea of buying an action figure, modify, and dress him up to look like a knight. If I can find a knight action figure, that would be better. I saw one of Ironman and was trying to decide if he might be good enough when my wife found another figure that seemed better. It was Anakin Skywalker.

When I first saw him, he looked perfect. The pose was correct, his head could turn left or right, and his long hair seemed suggestive of a knight. His light saber was extended, which seemed easy to modify to make it look like a regular sword. When I opened up the box, however, I noticed something.

He had a glove on his right hand but not on his left. I watched the movie but don't remember noticing his fashion statement. He also seemed too thin. I'm not putting sheet armor on him, just make him look like he's wearing chain mail and a sword. He needs to look bulkier and wearing large gloves. I couldn't find anything more suitable, however, so I took him home. I need your body, Anakin. (",)

How to fix him up? It's a technique that a lot of people have done at least once in their lives, maybe during their school days. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. It's called papier-mache and it seems simple enough.

Since I need a silhouette, I'm going to paint him completely black. That means the finished product doesn't need to be perfect. Just good enough to take a picture of. I'm trying to decide if I need to trim his left arm sleeve so that I could mold a glove onto it.

Once the figure is completed and painted, I'm going to put him in front of a white background and take his picture. I might need to do a little editing work later but it should be easy since it's black and white.

When I finish changing Anakin Skywalker into Sir John, I'll make another post along with pictures. 'Wish me luck. (",)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Working on the Legend of the Moon

I'm taking a little time off on editing Legend of the Moon to make an entry in my blog. 'Don't want to neglect this blog like I did with the last one.

I have a lot of respect for editors, mostly because I do my own editing and I find that it's hard work. That's probably because I'm not a professional editor. My grammar is quite good but not exactly up to par with real editors. I also have problems with punctuation and that's probably because I didn't pay too much attention to my English teachers. Most of what I learned, I learned from reading.

How does one edit a book?

I usually start with a quick pass through the book, looking for misspellings, repeated words, and awkward sentences. Then I do another quick pass...and another...and another. When does it end? Until I find none or when I get tired of doing it. After you've gone through the story five or ten times, fatigue sets in and you need to rest. When you go back to it, you will usually find more errors and you'll have to go back several more times.

Are there words that appear too often or appear too close to each other? This is where vocabulary is important. If the word "enemy" appears in two sentences one after the other, you'll need to think of another term for the second word (opponent/antagonist/adversary). A thesaurus is a big help. Otherwise, a rewrite is in order.

Next is content. Is the paragraph understandable? Is it logical (i.e. makes sense)? Does this paragraph belong in the next chapter or in this chapter? Should I cut up this chapter into two or more, or join two or more chapters into one?

In the case of Legend of the Moon, I decided to rearrange parts of the story. In the blog version, I had the protagonist reminisce about the past before going back to the present. That's not really a bad technique but, taking the cue from some readers who had gotten confused, I decided to rearrange it so the events happened in sequence.

Finally, there's the ending. I'm a little ashamed to say that I gave in to the pressure of finishing the story a little too quickly. So, I've been working on it for several days. I've erased and restarted the ending a number of times already. I decided to stop for a while to restore the creative juices and maybe give me a good idea for the conclusion.

Of course, I could always hire a professional editor. Unfortunately, it's a little difficult to find one who will accept a large pizza as payment. (",)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Announcement for "Legend of the Moon"

I'm presently working on rewriting and editing the story and plan on uploading to in about a week. This being the case, I will be deleting the story from my blog either tomorrow or Friday. Doing this will leave a great big gap in my blog posts (June to November) but there's nothing I can do about it.

For those of you who have read it, thank you for your patronage and I hope you enjoyed it. If you're still reading at this time, you're going to have to step it up.

I don't think I'll write another long story in my blog ever again. A blog was never meant to become a venue for novel writing. Maybe if you're retired, with loads of time in your hands, and you can think and type at the speed of light, AND you don't intend to sell the story, it might work.

I'm reminded of an article that mentioned Barbara Cartland, a romance novel writer, wrote over 700 novels in her lifetime. In 1983, she wrote 23 novels and that is still the world record for novels written in one year. She's also one of a rare breed of authors who's first novel became a bestseller.

What brought that on? Ha ha! I don't know. But that's one of the things that I used in writing Legend of the Moon. An idea pops out and I put it on the screen.