Planning

Complete DIY Self-Publishing Pt. 4: The Cover

This is the third part of a series about self-publishing a short e-book as a completely DIY project. Part 1 introduced why you should consider trying to self-publish on your own at least once. Part 2 dealt with some of the tools you will need to gather at some point to accomplish the project. Part 3 addressed the importance of formatting and using the tool of a style guide.

ToolboxVisual Affect and the Cover

The cover of a book may be one of the most important elements in the digital world. A weak cover can dull sales. However, with a smaller project the cover presents some difficulty since the project may not have the budget for a top-end cover. It’s at this point you may consider spending some money on a photo which you can use to develop into a cover. Personally, I went with a photo from iStockPhoto.com but I’ve also written about more sites too (this post was about using free photos for blog posts but these sites should have terms for buying photos for re-use as a cover).

Making the Cover

Once you’ve chosen a suitable photo as the basis of your cover, you’re ready to being working it. Here’s how my process went for The Black Bag.

1. I got in my toolbox and pulled out PowerPoint and created a slide with the photo.

2. Next I create text boxes and added my Title, by-line and additional information.

3. Save the file as a PowerPoint file (.pptx file extension).

4. Next re-save it with “Save As” and choose the .jpg (IMPORTANT: when prompt whether to save all slides or just the current one, choose just the current one).

That’s it for the basic cover.

HammerThe Final Touch

At this point, I had cover ready. However, my original was the incorrect size to up load so it needed some work. This required some photo editing to change the size of the photo. To handle this job, I went to another tool to handle the photo-editing: Gimp. I’m not an expert on this task so this article better explains how to re-size a photo using Gimp. It’s not a very hard process and when you’ve completed this your cover is ready unless you need to make some changes to the cover such as text size (make sure you can see this in thumbnail view of the file on your computer).

More Cover Resources

Need a little more information about covers before tackling this part of the project?

Rayne Hall discusses best practices with covers in her book: Why Does My Book Not Sell?

Here’s an article that shows in detail the process of using PowerPoint to create a cover.

Don’t have PowerPoint and want to use only free software for making your cover? This article shows how to use Gimp exclusively.

Not interested in using Gimp? Try free online Photoshop and watch this video.

My own cover is just below.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Have you tried making your own cover? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added anew sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

8 Ways Scrivener Aids My Writing

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

When I originally gave Scrivener a whirl earlier this year I didn’t know how the software worked. But I read several articles and posts about how other writers put this writing tool to use. I took my time working through the provided tutorial after which I began using it with increasing regularity.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun using Scrivener for almost all of my writing. I’m so impressed with it’s usefulness, I’ve begun writing about this software to share my ideas. I’m getting lots of mileage out of blogging with it and I’ve begun using it for my newsletter and other email templates.

Here are 8 ways Scrivener boosts my efforts as a writer:

1. I’m better organized from the beginning of projects. Because Scrivener is an organizational tool, I’m able to develop structure from the beginning of the project.

2. I can easily make changes to structure. Even though I’m structuring my projects well at the beginning, if I find I need to make structural changes I can do so quickly and easily using the binder.

3. I can turn out short projects at a faster rate. As I’ve written, I’m using this software for blogging, newsletters and email templates.

4. I can use different media to assist my efforts. I can copy pictures, links, video and other forms of media into a project. This is very effective for visualizing aspects of a project like characters or locations. I place these in a sub-folder within the Research folder.

5. Since I’m more organized and faster with short projects I have more time for longer projects. It becomes a real time-saver so from this efficiency I can spend more time on my longer projects which have a higher importance over the long haul.

Scivener Binder6. In relation to number 5, I don’t waste time staring at a blank screen since all the preliminaries are out of the way. As a writer, it’s not a good thing to sit staring at you screen. For me, beginning with organizing the project and working with development tasks means my ideas are so developed that I’m more than ready to write the project when the time comes.

7. In relation to number 2, I can edit more effectively which is a plus for a novel. I don’t have the whole manuscript staring at me, just a piece that is manageable. I’ve found that trying to manage a whole manuscript in a single file structure means that I bog down with the entirety of editing. With Scrivener, the book is already segmented and ready for editing.

8. It’s my multi-function tool. As I’ve written in earlier posts, the software is so flexible I can use it for any type of work that I’m doing as a writer. And because it is so powerful a tool I can plan a project like a blog series with growth potential and conversion into a different format as a book – and let’s face it, bloggers like the idea of transforming their blog posts into an e-book.

Bonus Info: Here are links to some helpful templates:

Scrivener template designed for a year of blogs from AllIndieWriters.

Another template for blogging from Thaddeus Hunt.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Upcoming News: Next week, I’m planning a post about Scrivener for another use.

If you use Scrivener, how has it improved your writing? If you haven’t started using Scrivener, what’s stopping you? What other usages can you share? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed yesterday so take a look.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Real Characters: She Can’t Be That!

Allison, the fell warrior-princess, drew her sword and advanced on the band of ragged louts confronting her. “You’ll soon feel the fiery claw that is ‘The Tigress’, you cowards.”

The men laughed and doubled-over. “You can’t hurt us!”

Her faced scrunched and a flush rose on her cheeks. “I can’t.”

The leader stepped forward with a grin. “You don’t know how to use that. You can’t be a warrior.”

“I can’t?”

“No you’re just here, well, for the women to identify with.”

Allison scratched the back of her head. “I am?”

“Sure, now run along and sew or something but try to be serious and well-respected.”

Joan of ArcThe other ruffians guffawed. “Yeah! And try to look beautiful while you’re at it.”

Allison walked away shaking her head. “I don’t understand, I trained an everything.”

You’ve read it. I’ve read it. It’s a common complaint on internet discussion threads; the female warrior is overdone and become farce. Such characters are written merely to gain and keep women readers but they aren’t realistic – not a reflection of reality in the real world so they can’t be in the fictional world. The complaints go on and often twirl into other complaints about overdone tropes of various sorts. Frequently, one wonders if these people are just tired of the grand trope of fantasy altogether (and my advice would be to read some other genres for a while – or better yet some non-fiction).

But I say, the woman-warrior is welcome in fantasy and should even be celebrated! Why? Well lets examine some of the reasons.

She’s been there all along

Now I’ve heard some people complain that female characters should be a warrior and domestic – it would be unique. Others retort that it’s not realistic and can’t be done. Well, it has been done and it is realistic.

The best example is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Eowyn is a princess of Rohan who has taken care of her king in his magical dotage. We meet just after she has cared for her brother as he died. When trouble comes, Eowyn is called upon to lead her people while the men go off to war. But, being wearied of her life and finding trouble in her back yard she chooses to take up the sword. And it’s a good thing she does so, because she does what no man can do – kill the Lord of the Nazgul. Tolkien has been accused for years for his sexism in not having more women in the story as well as implying that women shouldn’t fight. But he places Eowyn right in line of danger, giving her, arguably one of the best scenes in the whole trilogy – not to mention a great line. It translated well to the big screen.

But that’s not realistic

What’s that? Still arguing about this trope? It can’t happen? Do you think women can’t and won’t take up the sword when necessary, even coming from a domestic background? Think again because history provides us with a singularly excellent example: Joan of Arc. She was a farm-girl and you can imagine what that life was like – very farm and domestic-like. But after seeing a vision she heads off to volunteer to save France from the English. It’s the stuff of a great fantasy tale.

What’s that? It’s only one example? Wrong again – what about the Amazons (check the part about Sarmatian burials). They’re just a myth? Well, think about that again. Secrets of the Dead had an episode iwhere Amazons were examined as historically real. Apparently they lived in that area of the world and later migrated across the Russian steppes.

VikingStill not satisfied? According to a recent archaeological study, women may have make up almost half of Viking warrior burials. Yep, that’s right, almost half. All those Vikings storming the shores of Europe to raid villages and towns had plenty of women in the fray and pillaging. Surprised? I’m not. While woman often have domestic duties in most cultures throughout history, they too need to be momma-bears when necessary. Regardless, there are multiple cultures which recounted tales of the Shieldmaiden.

As for the princess idea, lets put that to rest as well. Ever heard of Boudica? She was a Celtic queen who led an uprising against the Romans. Before the “rebellion” was put down she and her people won several battles against the formidable Roman legions.

So take a deep breath and let’s not get worked up about the trope and whether aspects of how female warriors are portrayed are possible. They are indeed possible, however the character, like all, should be presented authentically as possible.

Authenticity

So there can be shown that women were part of many tales about heroic feats.While the female warrior is historically present in many accounts all the sexy depictions are not. Many of the tales recount that Amazons and Shieldmaidens were dressed as men. What does this mean? Those hot-looking breastplates are not accurate. In fact, breast bulges would not even be structurally sound defensive accoutrements.

The importance to understand is that heroic female characters do belong but should not be cast as sex symbols because those easily become unrealistic. In this case, Martin’s female knight, Brienne, is both realistic and authentic. So I say, “Long live the trope!” But only as long as it fits and is presented well which is what all readers ask of any story.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

What fantasy tropes bother you and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added anew sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.