Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cover Art and Dressing the Hero

Recreating History with Play

I'm working with a graphic designer to create not just cover art but an image to identify every book in the series of stories about Argolicus: the short stories and the novel Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic. We started with an image of a Roman soldier at the time 512 C.E. to 514 C.E. The style of the tunic is OK, but Roman and we're changing it to Ostrogoth. 

fante dell'esercito bizantino VI century Byzant 

Since the protagonist is not a soldier he'll be holding a book not a lance. And this particular book, the Codex Argenteus, plays a significant role in the novel.

Then there's the face. The hair had to go. Argolicus is dusty blond with curls. So I found a few male hair styles and sent them on as references. 

And the face on the soldier was a bit glaring and the models were all very pretty, so we needed a thinker.


I know, dark complexion but this is exactly how the process works. Then, we needed to change the tunic and give it some embroidery, worked by Argolicus' Ostrogoth mum, rather than military leather patches. 

 Next, the illustrator needed to know where the embroidery goes on the garment.   

But this fellow, isn't up on the social scale as high as Argolicus so I did a very rough sketch for the artist on embroidery placement adding a front panel as in the illustration above and shoulder patches.

All this for a recognizable image to tie together all the books in the series.

Book Cover and Marketing

Your book cover is the first thing your potential reader sees. Spend time and thought on how it will look. Examine other books, especially top sellers, in your genre. Notice the conventions and use them to your advantage while still making your cover unique. If you are planning a series, work with your graphic designer to set up a convention so all the books in the series are recognizable to returning readers. 

Keep writing!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Tale of Two Books

The Marketing Difference

Plan to Sell

A strong narrative voice, memorable characters, engaging dialog, strong action, scenes that move the story forward are part of the craft of storytelling. At the same time a writer needs to start learning marketing skills.

Without marketing a book will languish. Every author needs to plan to market and plan time each day to engage in marketing activities. The sooner an author begins incorporating marketing into his activities, the better the book will fare when it is published.

A little over two months ago I helped two authors get their books on Amazon. One author embraced marketing and the other said he was a writer and didn’t want to do marketing.

Both books had certain elements in common: a strong narrative voice, memorable characters, with action and strong dialog.

The author of Book 1 knew very little about marketing but he wanted his books to sell. He started taking action.
  • he began writing the next book
  • he did promotions on Kindle
  • he set up social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
  • he interacted with others on social media
  • he started a blog and shared each post with social media
  • he started an email list and gave away a free book which he wrote just for the promotion as an incentive
  • he sent regular notices to his email list with promotions and news about upcoming books

Once people started recognizing him as a person they
  • began sharing his books when they came out
  • leaving reviews on Amazon
  • buying the next book
  • writing personal messages about what the book meant to them on social media

With sales and reviews, Amazon started listing the book in Categories and suggesting the book to buyers who purchased similar books. A book need to sell 10 copies to show up on “also-bought” list or to show up in categories like noteworthy.
Now, the author receives a monthly royalty payment each month.

Today, the author who taught himself marketing is enjoying being an author. He looks forward to each book he writes.

The author of Book 2 did nothing. He said he would find an agent and let them do all the work. The agents he contacted asked him about his marketing plan. He didn’t have one. They didn’t take on the book.

Today, this author has sold no copies of the book, even with a backlist of other books.

If you have left designing your marketing plan out of your scheduled activities, now is the time to start.
  • set up your web page
  • get your book on social media
  • engage with others
  • create a mailing list
  • encourage reviews

You don’t have to start knowing everything. Just start. The author of book one had never written a twitter post, or reached out to fans on Facebook. He learned as he practiced. Now he writes notes to fans on his author page, is comfortable chatting with readers in email or online, and has done two live author interviews.

Start planning. Take action. Keep writing.

Zara Altair

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Action Verbs

A List of Action Verbs for 2016

We know that action verbs are the heart of moving a sentence, a scene, a story. Here are 366 action verbs, one for day of 2016 including the leap year day.
366 Action Verbs

Use while you keep writing!