AAAaaa! Book cover… stock art… I’ve been waiting for this…

I just received an e-mail from iUniverse about stock art and that I can look around and see if anything speaks to me.  And although my ears are wide open nothing is talking.  Art for the cover of the book is so very important.  This is more important than the title.  In all of my years working around books, I have found that people will look at the cover before reading the name.  I know, no brainer, you have to see the cover before you can read the words on it.  But too many times have wonderful classics and great books been passed over because of the cover.  I’ve even sold the much more expensive ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ several times because that one had a better cover (the prices of the 2 books were $35 and $10, if memory serves, and both were hard back).  So many book titles have not even been read, or back of the books not been looked at, all because the picture was not grabby enough.  This picture needs to be not just good, but great, and hold on to the person looking at the cover.  There needs to be an element of suspense, a little wisdom never hurts, and the topic has to go with it well.  If I was looking over Harlequin books and saw a cover with a very nice looking robot, I wouldn’t pick it up and read it.  I would think it was in the wrong place and skip over it.  I guess if it said, “Romancing the Robot” I might, now that I’m thinking of the cover… hum?  That might make for an odd but interesting romance with a sci-fi twist.  Truly though, if the cover is not right for the genre it will not sale.  My daughters wouldn’t pick up the anime books (aka manga) if they didn’t have cartoons on them.  Men will, however, pick up sports and car magazines with near nude women on them.  I wonder, if it was a book on how to cook the best meals and do your own laundry with the cover and in the book it was full of nude women doing chores, if they might buy it as well.  As a matter of fact, it might make a few men help out around the house.  Anyway it wouldn’t help my husband; he might help out if I bought him a video game guide on how to help clean house… maybe. … ok back to reality.  Excluding some men and nude female covers, the book cover has to be right or people will think it’s for something different.  The cover speaks to the buyer before the characters in the book get a chance.  So right now my dilemma is… Will I help to make the right choice with my book?  This is not my area.  I can see when things are not symmetrical.  I love art.  Waterhouse is one of my all time favorites, but will I pick out wisely for my book?  I have been trying to go with simple, without plain… this is hard for me.  I do have a ‘cover copy polish team’ but I still say what goes.  I am second guessing myself all over the place… AAAaaa!!!

Warning ~ this was written by a nervous, babbling author.  Any book ideas that are used from this segment must be taken at the readers own risk of possible failure.

How much is this going to cost…

As most of you know I have been sharing my experience with iUniverse on here, well today kids lets talk about money.  It’s paper yet it doesn’t grow on trees… (deep sigh)

Here is the list of exactly what I spent, what it was spent on, what I saved, and when ~
Aug. 29th 2009 paid for Bookstore Premier Pro Express package spent $1,579.00 ~ saved $920
Sept 6th 2009 paid for US Copyright spent $100 ~ saved $70
Sept 28th 2009 paid for Content Edit spent $3,475.82 ~ saved $0
Oct 1st 2009 will pay for Proofreading spending $1,162.43 ~ saving $0
Total spent/spending = $6,317.25 Total saved = $990 Total would’ve spent = $7,307.25

For the Content Edit it cast $0.035 a word, for the proofread $0.011 a word.  I will also be purchasing the Kindle/Sony Reader option ($99) for the people how enjoy reading that way.  (Like I have said before I think the book and the Kindle can live in harmony, but the Kindle is not a replacement for the book.)

If you chose iUniverse they will not wait for you to save the money for your first edit.  Once you get your manuscript back from the Editorial Evaluator you have 2 weeks to decide and pay.  I understand why, if not they would be sitting on hundreds of ‘maybe laters’ and ‘please wait, I’ll have the cash in X days/weeks/months/years/centuries/eons’.  They will give you a little time for the proofread; they are a little more lenient there.  Best thing to do is have the money saved.  If your book is near 100,000 words (and want about the same as what I have done) save about $7,000 to $10,000 before you go down this road.  Look at what is important to you.  You might wish to save more if you want to buy more books to give to libraries or friends and family.  You might want to buy a book signing kit or a marketing packet too.  They won’t help to make your book better, but they will help with sales.  Those are also things you can purchase down the road.  So if money is tight (I would not recommend skipping the edit) you might want to cut other things you find unnecessary.  The right type of edit, front cover, and the back of the book are all very important things.  People will still read it if it is paperback or if they can only get it online.  But if it looks like an amateur artist scribbled the front cover of the book, people will think an amateur author scribbled on the inside of the book.  If the edit job is poor and the story is great, most people still put it down because it’s too hard to understand.  If the back grabs them and pulls them in, the cover looks good, there are little to no editing flaws, and your story is interesting, then people will enjoy it and speak well of it.  You’ll still have to advertize, but it wouldn’t be as hard as it would be if one of those three things were lacking.  These are just recommendations and by all means this is your story, your decisions, and you are the one that has to walk in your shoes.

Although stores will not be modeled for my book when it first comes out, I saw the importance of my book being returnable from bookstores.  I want people to be able to order them from a store if need be.  I also want stores to feel comfortable with my book so they want to be modeled with my book.  That is why I went with the package I went with.

Note ~ Some of the covers I have seen artist do are lovely!  Some look very professional.  I do not want anyone to think I am saying that all are bad.  Truly though look through some of the places like iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Lulu, and any other self publisher’s site.  You will find a number of good choices as well as some of the worst covers you have ever seen in your life.  Pick carefully.

I caught a bad case of the ‘what ifs’…

I had a nice talk with my middle man and he feels it would be a waste to have them do both the proofread and have the content editor go back over it.  He feels that I only need to have it proofread.  Both cost the same ($0.11 per word) so there is no profit with one over the other.  I think he feels it would do better to have another set of eyes going over it.  I feel safe trusting him, so I think one more read with it printed out, or at least the chapters with the new scenes printed out and re-read.  I might just print out the new stuff for my husband to go over one last time, and then have me go over all of it.  My middle man told me it should be fine right now, but if I fell more comfortable with going over it again, one more time, then to do it.  But since I am having a proofreading done too, 2 times read should be enough.  He did like the idea the content editor gave about printing it out and reading it.

What I loved the most (and found very helpful) was before I submitted it the first time my husband read it out loud to me and we both caught things nether of us had caught before.  It was great.  I highly recommend this to anyone who has someone willing to this for them.  I am so lucky, right now he is reading over some of it for me… lets just hope I can read any of his side notes.  His handwriting is worse then a preschooler’s.  It was the one thing he hated about being in the classroom.

Well I have to get back to work.  I have a few typos I caught, that I want to un-typo.  Then I’ll do the ones Richard caught.  Then I think I’ll submit it tomorrow.  I am so nervous, what if I forgot something, or worded it wrong, or anything, or what if the house blows up and all of my computers die and I can’t do anything anymore… eek!  Or what if our computer beagle, who likes to stand on my husband’s computer and open up his widgets, learns how to delete files on my computer… There are many ‘what ifs’!

Ok, so today I am not AS engrossed in my work…

I have been slowly making a list of what I fixed and what I feel I am weak on, to send to my middle man.  Some of this I change/added so everyone else will understand.

 Key ~
Me = M
Editorial Evaluator = E
Content Editor = C
Husband = H

 List of what I did ~
Double researched everything I was a little unsure of ~ M
Added a little more conflict ~ E + H
Made one more climactic scene where suggested by evaluator ~ E
Made a different climactic struggle helping with 5 character developments ~ M + E
Made odd-ball teen a little more of a problem ~ E + H
Made the jerks a little more jerk-y ~ E
Made the main man less of an idiot and a little more dear ~ M + H + E (I did not mean to)
Made one ‘grandfather’ figure stand out a little more ~ E
Developed 2 good guys just a little more ~ E
Just a little more detail to 3 different places ~ E + H
Had main lady bring up 2 of her personal issues a few more times ~ E
Plus made sure that all of it matched ~ M
Did a better description of a device that the editor misunderstood ~ M + E + H (my bad)
Fixed suggestion made by editor and evaluator ~ C + E
Read it twice so far & read out loud the new scenes/sentences ~ M
Found out what my biggest problem area is, making it ‘flow’ just right ~ M + H
Second biggest problem is sequences in back stories (sometimes get ahead of myself) ~ H
Third is detail, I sometimes just need to add a little more ~ H
Made main lady less teenage-y ~ E

 This was not as much work as it sounds; some of it was real easy.
As you can see some of this I changed because I saw a problem, but most of it was the evaluator’s idea.  It would have been great if I would have had the ability to make the changes before the content editor did everything, but I was in a situation where I absolutely could not.  Sometimes in life we just do not have control.  But (as I have stated in other blogs) I will have it gone through at least one more time with an edit/proofread, if not both!

 Well, back to work… today, I am printing everything out to read it in a binder (that was suggested by the editor).  Then I am done after I read it there.  My husband is going to read it again too.

 To be truthful to everyone, I am not having any problems with this part.  I have been warned by all that this is the worst part and that I will be sick of my book before I am done.  I’m not.  I’m even planning or reading it one more time for me, with a highlighter, so I can highlight dates, names, ages, laws, rules, and so on before I edit the second book.  Just so I know I’m consistent.  BUT I was prepared for this before I started.  I was not prepared for the query letter or the this might take a while… a long long while part.  That was why I took this road and not the other.  I want to write books, not 2,000 letters, and wait 5 years, no thank you.  This is the road less traveled, but man do I love the scenery.

The edit is done and back in my hands…

I am so happy… that happy is too simple of a word.  Stoked, excited, thrilled, wowed, awesomely surprised, OOoooOOOOooooOOOOOo yeah, overjoyed, tickled, giggly, giddy, just overly happy, so if you’re in the mood to be grumpy then I’m sorry, you might want to read this when you’re in the mood to hear someone who is in a super great mood!!!

After I made the post I made today I (of course) received my finished content edit.  It looks good.  I’ve only glanced at it.  There are a lot of little marks on the side where they changed little things.  I get to decide whether or not it stays like this.  They also sent me a personal letter where they told me that they really enjoyed two of my main characters, working on the manuscript, and they like my perspective.  🙂  They also said that they look forward to reading the next book in the series.  This made me feel really good because none of those were things they had to say.  And when a person doesn’t have to say it, they usually mean it, especially since they are anonymous.  From what I understand I should get a chance to thank them at some point.  But that is a little murky, do I get to send them an e-mail and know their name or what?  At first it sounded like I will know who they are and maybe get to send an e-mail to my middle man (who is awesome) and then they pass it over to them.  Or I might get a chance to tell them thanks on the phone… but really everything there has been a little unclear.  I’ll need to ask again.  Almost everything I have asked has been a great, straight forward answer, so I’ll ask again.
They (iUniverse) offer an Editorial Assistant that would cost $60 per hour and the estimated time for my book is 11 hours.  Mine would then cost about $660.  I could pay for it easily, but I want to do this.  I want to learn what my weaknesses are.  I want to work on my book.  I didn’t write this to have others to do it for me.  I’m doing it and enjoying it, even the little setbacks are a wonderful lesson.  I love it!
They want me to try and do this in 2 weeks.  I talked to my middle man, who is more than just that.  I will get in to all that he does later.  Anyway I talked to him and he told me that the 2 weeks there are to push me.  He said that with the big boy publishers in NY I would not be given a requested 2 weeks, they would be telling me, “You have 2 weeks to finish it.”  I will do all I can to finish it by the ‘deadline’ we’ll see if I can.
My middle man is really cool.  He told me if I get writers block to call him and he will do everything he can to help me out.  He thanked me so much for taking this so seriously.  He complemented me about it and made me blush.  (I don’t do well on complements from anyone; I always blush when given them.)  He has answered my questions pretty well and over all I would give him 5 out of 5 stars for being helpful, professional, friendly, good sense of humor, knowledgeable, and usually explains things very well.  I’m very happy with him, so much so that I plan on requesting him with any of the books I plan on doing with iUniverse.
As I go though this (if I can) I will stop and make small blogs to let everyone know what is going on, how it looks, if it’s confusing, and so on.  If I do not get a chance I will let everyone know when I’m done.
I’m really happy about getting back to work on my book!!!  YAY!!!

WOW, What a week…

I have been over at my grandparents a number of times to see family.  I have gone over Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday… sadly I could not go Friday (today) or Wednesday, I had job related phone calls.  I am very much not sad over the calls!  Very happy, very very very happy!  Great phone calls!  😀  I will be published soon, I hope.  It will be with a self-publisher.  It is so crazy.  I have read some awful books that made it to being published traditionally and I have read some slow books, mediocre books, which have also been published traditionally.  Then I have read some so-so books that have become great hits… none of this makes sense to me.  It should not be that hard to get published traditionally.  Oh well, a number of authors/books have started with being self-published and here I go… I hope that I can make it starting this route.

My editorial evaluation had some highs, mediums, and lows.

The highs ~
The story was believable
The story line was very good and worked well
There is lots of potential for my book

The mediums ~
It was a leisurely read (but has everything there to make it more exciting)
It was enjoyable
Two of the characters were very exciting and enjoyable

The lows ~
They wanted to change my main character and make her something she is not
I messed up on presenting one part of my story and made a character look like an idiot
I used too many modern terms (that I did try to avoid) “Barf” and “Humongous” were two of them

It is extremely hard to see the evaluation in its real light, at first all the negatives jumped out and attacked, then the emotional room was not as dark as it once appeared and I could see that they wrote that the story was good, the book was good.  I was not just attacked, nor was my story.  They actually said in the over-all report that my book was good.  I have always tried to be very good about taking constructive criticism.  But when you read something as blunt as an editorial evaluation it’s a little harder than you would think.  I thought before I saw it, I can take anything.  If they say my book is junk I can deal with it… but they don’t.  Their bluntness is in minute details.  It is their job to nit pick.  If they do not like something you have to swallow that large pill without a glass of water while having cotton-mouth and hear the details of why.  I did know this before I did it, but I did not expect any problems where they were and a few where there was none.

I did learn a lot and am still learning.  They wanted this story to be everything that the second book is, and that was great to hear, because I enjoyed the first book the most and was a little worried about number two.  That was a major plus to me, the only problem is they want this character to be everything that a different one is in number two!  Of course the second book is still in rough draft form and not ready yet. 

Another wonderful thing was my husband’s help editing was great!  He told me to add more detail and he was right.  He enjoyed that it was leisurely at times, he like the main character, so he would not have wanted me to change her, and he liked the climatic points as well (there was no complaint from anyone about the climactic points just that their needed to be a least one more.)  He reminded me that theirs was just an opinion, but that his opinion was a little different.  He did agree however with a few minor things that were pointed out that neither he nor I saw… “Barf” and “Humongous” were two of them.

I really want to share with everyone my experience.  I will keep everyone posted.  Good or bad I will share it like I have shared the negative of my book evaluation.  It will be fixed so I am not worried, but I will share as much as I can.