Category Archive: books

Nov 26 2013

Getting Started: Cover Art for Self-Publishers

Blank white book(Updated 1/26/14 with more cover artists below)

In an article by Terri Giuliano Long on IndieReader.com, founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker, says, “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something.” A great cover can “help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”

We all know how important good cover art is for a published book. It’s even more important for self-published authors when competing with traditionally published books on the market.

The perfect book cover does three things:
  1. Grabs attention
  2. Gathers further interest
  3. Gets the sale

Getting the sale usually depends on other factors such as: genre, price, back cover description, interior quality, etc. However, a great book cover should get you one step closer to a sale.

 

Where to Start

Start with writing down your book cover goals and ideas. Depending on your book’s genre and audience, you should have specific goals in mind when planning your perfect book cover.

Erotica: Do you want to portray a specific scene from the story? Do you want sexy cover models? Do you want the mysterious bookstore-appropriate cover like the Fifty Shade books?

Romance: Do you want the hero and heroine to attract your readers? Want silhouetted images or specific body parts so not to throw off your readers and their interpretations of your characters? Would a pretty rose or other object better signify your book’s message? What about colors, does red match the personality, theme or mood of your book?

After you have an idea of what you want to portray, you start looking for a professional cover artist.

Professional Cover Artist

Sure, you probably can whip up a book cover over the weekend using GIMP or some other free graphic manipulating software. But unless you are a skilled graphic designer or a pro with Photoshop you should probably look to someone who creates book covers for a living to assist you.

Cover artists are professional not only because they know how to manipulate images and graphics, they also understand book covers and the genres they create them for. They have specific ideas about the right kind of feel for the genre, the perfect placement of text, fonts and images, they use the highest resolution of the perfect stock photos, and more. Some may even design promo material for you (bookmarks, Facebook headers, etc.) which will come in handy when marketing your book.

Are you still in control?

Of course, you are in control of your book cover. You provide very detailed descriptions and examples of what you desire for your book cover to the cover artist, and they try their best to deliver, usually not stopping until you are absolutely satisfied with the cover. Some cover artists have limits to the amount of revisions you can make, which is understandable if you consider they have other clients and projects to tend to as well.

Will you own the cover rights?

Yes. If you are a self-published author, you are paying for the full rights to use the book cover in any way you please, provided the cover artist acquired the necessary stock photo rights. Still, I would advise you to clarify this with the designer ahead of time.

Aren’t the pros expensive?

It depends on who you work with, your exact needs, and your budget. Sure, a full cover wrap is more expensive than an e-book cover, because you only need a front cover for an e-book as opposed to the front cover, back cover, and spine for a POD paperback. Custom book cover designs cost more than a pre-made cover design. Higher resolution photos cost more for the cover artist, so in turn, they’ll cost more for you. It all depends on your needs.

You said, “Pre-made book covers?”

Yep. You can get pre-made book covers for as low as $25 through some cover artists. The best book cover designers have an online portfolio where you can browse covers through genres or themes. But remember, it’s on a first comes, first served basis. In other words, once a particular book cover is sold, it is gone forever. And although they are pre-made, the artist will still customize the cover with your author name, book title, series title, tagline, etc. For authors with a low budget or debuting, using a pre-made cover can be your best bet.

Finding Professional Cover artists

Finding a professional book cover designer is as easy as Google. Below is a list of a few I’ve either worked with or checked out myself.

Variety of genres.

Art by Karri | http://artbykarri.com/ | Prices starting at $45
RomCom Pre-Made Book Covers | http://www.romcon.com/pre-made-book-covers | Prices starting at $125
Farah Evers Designs | http://www.farahevers.com/ | Prices starting at $50
Mina Carter Designshttp://art.mina-carter.com/ | Prices starting at $40
Cover Art Collective | http://www.coverartcollective.com/ | Prices starting at $30 (This link also lists 10 other book cover designers)
Amazon.com KDP Cover Creator | https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin | When publishing on the KDP platform you now have an option to create your book cover complete with images and templates | currently priced at FREE
Selfpubbookcovers.com | http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/index.php | prices at $69
Mallory Rock (Graphic Artist & Interior Formattor) | http://www.malloryrock.com/ | prices (must query)

 

Suggested by blog readers & visitors:

 

Scarlet Tie Designs Pre-made Book Covers | http://scarlettiedesigns.weebly.com/ | Prices starting at $30
Meredith Orioli – Graphic Designer |  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meredith-Orioli-Freelance-Graphic-Designer/1430358920512362?ref=hl | Prices (must query)

 

You know some great and affordable book cover artists? Let us know about them in the comments.

 

When it comes to cover art, this post will help you get started. Now you know what to expect, where to look, and what to budget for your book cover design. Is there anything you would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments.

 

[Image credit: Oh, Chrys!]

Feb 14 2012

The Complicated Story Ending

The ending of your story should be just as engaging as the beginning hook. It should be emotionally satisfying, and tie up most if not all loose ends. If the book is part of a series, it still needs to stand on its own, and answer all major story questions.


Sound familiar?

These are the (unofficial) rules about story endings that all writers know or should know. We follow these rules to ensure a great ending to our story in the hopes that readers will stick around for the next book in the series, come back to read our next standalone title, or even pick up one of our backlisted ones.

Why Endings are Important.

The end of any book is important. The end is the last impression the reader has of our stories. It’s the part of the story that is the freshest in their mind and which they rate and judge the book as a whole. A great ending is hard to write but necessary to attempt.

Although I know what makes a great ending I still struggle to execute it at times. I obsess over it, trying to perfect it.

Makings of a Great Story Ending:

  • Twists and surprise endings: Surprising the reader with a revelation that was foreshadowed throughout the story. i.e. It was right under their noses the whole time.

  • Theme: Tying in the overall theme or message of the book into the ending to add extra significance.

  • Answer the major story question: Will they fall in love? Will they find the murderer? Will they ever learn to trust one another?

  • Character change and growth: The main characters must begin the story a certain person and by the end of the story the character is a changed man or woman. The events in the story, the obstacles, the triumphs and failures all mold the character into a different person by the end.

  • End at the end: Once the major story questions are answered and the character achieves the story goal then the story is over. Ending the story before questions are answered and characters change or long after can disappoint the reader.

Currently I attempt to rewrite the ending of my latest WIP and hope it all falls into place. Knowing how to write the perfect ending to your story doesn’t make it any less complicated, in my opinion. However, my motto is: If it’s too easy, you ain’t doing it right.

Feb 03 2012

What I’ve Learned that May Help You and Your Writing




Over the past few months I’ve been soaking in a lot of creative writing information as part of building and improving my writing skills. I recently challenged myself to write the best book I’ve ever written, and to attempt that personal feat required many hours of reading, analyzing, researching and (of course) writing.

I’ve had some epiphanies during the course of writing my post-apocalyptic novel (Before the Darkness) that I would like to share. These are things that I already knew about creative writing (I’m an author. Of course, I knew :/) but only really understood when reading these books or blogs.



What I’ve learned

Source



Metaphors and allegories can help strengthen a story and provide an engaging writing/reading experience.

Major plot twists or twist ending should tie into the overall mood and/or theme of the story for a greater emotional impact.

The sci-fi novella Wool by Hugh Howey

Incorporating universal human emotion into every facet of your writing builds strong characterization and helps the reader relate to the characters, conflicts and particular circumstances.

The erotic romance novel Destiny for Three by Lilly Hale

All reviews, be they positive or negative, ranting or raving, short or long, are still beneficial to the author. A reader may show interest in the very thing another reader finds unappealing in a book. It’s all subjective. At least the book provoked some kind of emotional response to push readers into discussing it.

Readers’ comments about Ranting authors over negative reviews from book reviewers

To easily find areas in your book that are telling instead of showing search for the word WAS. Using was in a sentence usually indicates the lack of effectively describing something or someone in your writing.

Noble Romance Blog

Write what you love and the rest will come to you.

Instead of focusing on getting to the end of your story, make small goals and complete those first.

It’s never too early to start talking about your work.

From various creative writing books, blogs and magazines:

These are just of few of the things I’ve grown to really understand over the past few months just by reading books, blogs, readers’ comments on blogs and magazine. Have you had an epiphany lately?

Aug 10 2011

Benefits of Sharing now on All Romance eBooks!

Order my latest erotic romance, Benefits of Sharing, on ARe!

Benefits of Sharing

By: Leslie Lee Sanders | Other books by Leslie Lee Sanders
Published By: Breathless Press
Published: Aug 12, 2011
ISBN # 9781771010030
Word Count: 6,783
Heat Index: 5 flames
Price: $1.99 $1.49Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Palm DOC/iSolo, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.prc), Rocket, Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi)

BUY NOW

Multiple partners, menage, mmf, gay, threesome, contemporary.

Blurb:

Cara is unenthusiastic about her upcoming thirtieth birthday. Maybe her husband’s eighteen-year-old coworker Isaac could add some excitement.

Cara Matthews is about to turn thirty, and for her, it’s the death of her youth and the beginning of the dull years. Her husband, James, is aware of her sudden grief and surprises her with something that should take her mind off of aging: young Isaac.

Maybe Isaac can help Cara create her very own wild and crazy experience to share—in more ways than one—and help her transition smoothly from her twenties to her thirties.

Cara is all too eager to finally experience the excitement she’s been desperately craving, but she’s also a little skeptical. Exactly who is Isaac, and why is he so eager to please?

Excerpt:

“Hi,” she greeted the delivery guy.

“Hello,” he said with such a deep voice, she did a double take just to be sure the sound came from the tall young man standing before her. He smiled. “Cara Matthews? These are for you.”

“Thank you.” Her husband was definitely the best. Already his gift had cheered her up.

The delivery guy handed her the dark purple irises in their clear glass vase. They were her favorite color and flower. “There’s a note in the middle for you.” He beamed.

“Oh, I already know who they’re from.” She smiled again, said “thank you,” closed the door, and turned to go back inside. Once in the kitchen, she set the flowers down on the center of the table and smelled a few of them. A fresh, sweet floral scent filled her nostrils. Perfect. She grabbed her cocoa and quickly drank the rest of it before washing the mug and putting it back in the cabinet. Then she sat down at the kitchen table before her leather-bound diary. She glanced at the flowers and the little white note that stuck up from the purple petals. She carefully plucked it out and read it.

We talked about the benefits of “sharing,” and I think it’s the perfect time to do just that. You deserve a special gift for a special day, and he’s outside waiting for you. Now invite Isaac in, and be sure to thoroughly thank him. Happy birthday!

Love, James.

Cara read and reread James’s message. Was she reading it clearly? They had talked about what fun it would be to invite someone into their bed for a threesome. They even laughed at how it could further strengthen their marriage, but she had thought the entire conversation was just a joke, a way of entertaining themselves. She turned the card over, expecting to read, Gotcha! I cheered you up, didn’t I? But no such words were there. It was blank.

Isaac?

Was James serious?

Cara immediately went back to the front door and looked through the peephole again. There he was, the delivery guy, pacing back and forth on the porch.

“This must be a joke,” she mumbled and cracked the door opened. She peeked through the slit. “Isaac?”

He grinned and stared at her with light brown eyes. “You gonna invite me in?”

“Who are you?” she asked, frowning, unsure.

“I’m Isaac. James sent me.”

“For what?” Cara glared, waiting for him to confirm what was written on the note.

He laughed uneasily and whispered, “To help you feel better,” then winked.

Although she was a bit hesitant, Isaac looked harmless and even a little tense. She opened the door wider to get a better look at the guy.

Aug 03 2011

Pre-order Benefits of Sharing Today!

Currently, I am at 12,500 words in my latest WIP, Before the Darkness. The way the story is going I expect to finish it somewhere around 20k-30k words, although it can be longer. I can’t seem to find the time to work on it as much as I want to. I hope this weekend I can write a big chunk of it because I want to finish it before the end of the year.

The elevator pitch:

After an asteroid strikes Earth, sending a wall of ash and other debris into the atmosphere, Elliot meets fellow survivor Adam and together they take advantage of the next few hours, learning to appreciate their second chance at life and live it to the fullest.

The problem:

The research.  Asteroids are tricky to write about, especially an asteroid impact with Earth. Even though the story focuses more on the inner conflict of the main characters, the impact is what sets the story in motion and contributes to the story’s tension, adding suspense, raising the stakes and providing exterior conflict. Therefore, it’s very important that the impact and the effects of impact are realistic.


I hope to finish the first draft before the end of the year. Hell, some writers can do it in thirty days. That would be nice!

Jul 10 2011

New Cover Art: Benefits of Sharing

I just received the cover art to my erotic romance, Benefits of Sharing, due August 12th from Breathless Press! I’m so excited!

Here’s the blurb:

Cara Matthews is about to turn thirty and for her it’s the death of her youth and the beginning of the dull years. Her husband James is aware of her sudden grief and surprises her with something that should take her mind off of aging…young Isaac.

Maybe Isaac could help Cara create her very own wild and crazy experience to share…in more ways than one. And therefore help her transition smoothly from her twenties to her thirties.

Cara is all too eager to finally experience the excitement she’s been desperately craving but she’s also a little skeptical. Exactly who is Isaac and why is he so eager to please?

10

Jul 10 2011

New Cover Art: Benefits of Sharing

I just receive the cover art for Benefits of Sharing, my erotic romance available August 12th from Breathless Press!

Here’s the blurb:

Cara Matthews is about to turn thirty and for her it’s the death of her youth and the beginning of the dull years. Her husband James is aware of her sudden grief and surprises her with something that should take her mind off of aging…young Isaac.


Maybe Isaac could help Cara create her very own wild and crazy experience to share…in more ways than one. And therefore help her transition smoothly from her twenties to her thirties.

Cara is all too eager to finally experience the excitement she’s been desperately craving but she’s also a little skeptical. Exactly who is Isaac and why is he so eager to please?

Jul 07 2011

Impersonating Sam 1 of 12 Terrific Indie Titles for under $1 at ARe!

You don’t get much for $1 anymore, but you do at All Romance eBooks! ARe highlighted my book IMPERSONATING SAM as 1 of 12 Terrific Indie Titles for under $1! Follow the link and download it now to read it instantly.

 

 

Impersonating Sam

Series: Seven Sins Series , Book 1
By: Leslie Lee Sanders | Other books by Leslie Lee Sanders
Published: Jun 02, 2011
ISBN # LLSBKS000004
Word Count: 16,000

Heat Index: 4 flames

Blurb: Sunni Mitchell is angry and rightfully so. Her boyfriend abruptly decided to leave her… for another man. While trying to overcome her pain and anger, she struggles to understand her best friend Joseph’s sexual relationship with his lover Ben.

Knowing her romantic feelings for Joseph, he and Ben suggest they all share a passionate night of lovemaking to help heal Sunni’s broken heart. She is hesitant for many reasons but thoughts of being enveloped in Joseph’s arms mercilessly nags at her.

Then she stumbles upon Joseph’s erotic novel and it helps her realize the opportunity she could miss. With help from the novel’s sexy vixen Samantha aka “Sam,” Sunni soon realizes that being someone else might give her the emotional strength she’s been lacking. By taking on another’s persona, could she finally get over her losses, diminish her anger and have her very own happily ever after in love?

10

Jun 09 2011

Connecting the Shorts

I wanted to talk a little about my popular Happy Holiday shorts. Since their release, they have been selling very well and I want to take this moment to thank my readers for their support. (As you already know, I wrote the shorts for you guys to show reader appreciation over the holidays.)

There are a total of three short stories in the series that can be read and enjoyed on their own but are much more fun when you read them all. Yes, you can read the stories in any order. Although I did write Three-way Kisses first, Kiss and a Handshake second and All About a Kiss third.


What makes these stories fun to read together is that they are connected. What connects them?

  • They take place on the same night, Christmas Eve.

  • They take place at the same party, the Happy Holiday festival held by the law firm Stephens and Steven’s.

  • Each main character of each individual story hears the same conversation that presents the opportunity to crash the infamous kissing party where the first person you kiss, or who kisses you, is the person you must spend the rest of the night with.

  • In each story you get a different character’s point of view of both parties and you even get brief cameos of the characters in the other two stories. Otherwise the stories are totally different.

Three-way Kisses focuses on Kyla and Mike as they are introduced to Bret at the kissing party. It is an MMF ménage erotic romance with a nice little surprise embedded in there. It’s more of a romance than the other two since Kyla and Mike have an established, loving relationship.

The others have little twists in them too.

Kiss and a Handshake focuses on Alex as he can’t seem to get Zak off of his mind. It is an M/M themed erotic short with a rather fun and witty vibe to the storytelling. Even the title has a “funny” explanation.

All about a kiss is more of an M/F erotic story with themes consisting of interracial, public sex and light bondage. It focuses on Jasmine and her kiss with the Wrangler.

I had a fun experience writing these stories. I hope you have just as much fun reading them. Read one or read them all. There’s enough variety for everyone.

Get them all today at All Romance eBooks, Barnes and Noble and Amazon for $0.99!

Leslie Lee Sanders

May 27 2011

Breathless Press Offers Contract!

After an R&R, nonstop days of revising and what felt like a serious attempt to prove myself, (and turning into somewhat of a perfectionist during the process) Breathless Press has accepted my erotic romance, Benefits of Sharing!

Benefits of Sharing is a short erotic romance with an MMF menage theme. The story focuses on Cara who is having a difficult time turning thirty because of her sense of lost youth. Her husband attempts to cheer her up and restore her lost youth by introducing her to young Isaac.

I am so excited to become a part of the Breathless Press family and I look forward to working with my editor to further polish my story.

This is great news!

Leslie Lee Sanders

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