book covers

Release Day Is Almost Here!

My first self-published release, Black Mountain Magic, will come out on Tuesday! I’m really excited about it. You can pre-order a copy at all major online retailers right now if you like.

I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff on my first self-publishing excursion. I’ll share with you some of those lessons, if you’re planning on doing the same and still need advice:

Thing I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

  • Use a simple, non-fancy font on your cover flat. I learned this the hard way, after I received copies of it. The cover flat is the back and front of your physical book, that you upload to a place like CreateSpace. The font I used for the blurb on the back looks wonky. No one I’ve shown the book to so far has even noticed it, but it bothers ME, so I’m in the process of re-doing it. Making a cover flat and getting it to fit right is harder than you think. You might have to tinker with it over and over again.
  • Don’t be afraid of reviewers. I sent my book to a bunch of reviewers pre-release and some of them actually said they’d review it! I found them through reviewers who had reviewed my traditionally published works, as well as through the tour service I do blog tours for, and Manic Readers. You can also just Google ‘book reviews (your genre).’ Make sure you read each reviewer’s guidelines for submitting books and MOST will tell you if they review self-pubbed works.
  • Have a Goodreads giveaway! This is only possible if you have physical copies of the book to give away, since you can’t do an e-book giveaway. It’s free, and tons of people have entered my giveaway, much to my surprise. A large portion of those people also added it to their to-read shelf and a few pre-ordered.
  • If you publish through Smashwords, they will distribute your book to places like Kobo and B&N as well. I didn’t even realize this. Whoops.
  • If you don’t publish through Smashwords and use Nook’s self-publishing platform, you can’t put your book up for pre-order. However, if it’s distributed by Smashwords, you can do pre-order on Nook.
  • Most people have no idea your book is self-published unless you tell them. I haven’t had a single person ask who my publisher is. Most people don’t buy books based on the publisher, either (unless they’re looking for books from a publisher-specific imprint).
  • If you made your own cover, don’t tell people. Let them see it first and get their honest reaction before you tell them. 😉 I was pleased so many people exclaimed “oh, I love the cover!” only then did I buff my nails and do a little bragging.
  • Don’t check your sales obsessively. Seriously, doooooon’t.

I’ll come back AFTER it goes on sale and I’ve had a little experience with that and let you know what else I’ve learned. I’m sure there will be plenty!

A new release!

Well, I’ve gone and pulled the trigger on my self-publishing endeavors! I’m really excited about this venture and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’ve had a crash course in formatting documents for various types of book files, but it wasn’t too frustrating. Okay, I lie, there was definitely some hair-pulling involved–but next time it’ll go smoother because I know what I’m doing now, right? Right?!

I’m proud of how the cover turned out, too. It was far less frustrating to create, I think because I knew exactly what I wanted ahead of time and I’d found the perfect picture (that being my sassy yet sultry heroine). The story is a bit of a twist on shifter romance with a southern flavor and a dash of humor.

I’ve decided to release it on November 15th (just in time for holiday buying!) and I’ve put it on pre-order at all major retailers. It will eventually be on B&N if you’re a Nook fan, but Nook’s self-publishing service takes longer before you’re approved and can put books up. As soon as it’s available on Nook, I will add the link. Nook is now available and added below!

I will be doing some promotional stuff and giveaways in the near future and after it’s released. If you like to review books of this sort, or have a friend who does, please let me know here or shoot me an email, I will be happy to provide you with a review copy! This is a full-length book, 270 pages.


Black Mountain Magic – Kentucky Haints #1

Available November 15th

Witches and Lycans and hillbillies, oh my!

Lorena Mills is a witch, but she’s not very good with potions and incantations. Working for a government agency that puts down dangerous uprisings of supernatural creatures, she does much more paperwork than spell casting. When her less-than-magical job lands her in the small Appalachian town of Blue Ditch, Kentucky, in the shadow of Black Mountain, her life starts to get a whole lot wilder.

In the forests surrounding the town, Wolvites—twisted, bestial creatures who hunt and kill humans—are posing a threat. When handsome, charming, and altogether reckless local Deacon Kelley insists on taking matters into his own hands, Lorena has more than monsters to worry about. He won’t stay out of her way, and he won’t take no for an answer.

Deacon is a Lycan–in modern terms, the non-shifting descendants of werewolves–and he and his family have protected Blue Ditch for generations. But now, something too sinister to be controlled by their efforts alone is stirring, and the Wolvites are far more vicious than they’ve ever been. Will Lorena be able to stop the threat and uncover the deadly secrets surrounding it before it’s too late?

To keep the town, and Deacon, safe, she’ll have to—and she’s really starting to like this town.

Pre-order at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleKobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Cover Reveal for It Takes A Thief

I have the cover for It Takes a Thief, my paranormal erotic romance coming this August from Siren Bookstrand!

Audra Yates is immortal, a being of a nameless race that has been around since the beginning of time. But there’s still one way for an immortal to die—if you find your soul mate, you’ll start to age. For this reason, Audra has been killing her soul mate for over a century, every time he reincarnates and seeks her out.

Now, Audra is bored with her long life, and she needs a reason to keep going.

This time around, her soul mate comes in the form of Eamon Ashe, a beautiful criminal who steals her purse one beautiful spring morning. When Audra confronts him, she finds herself unnaturally weak to his charms. Audra gives in to the pull that’s been tugging at her for ages, a lust and love that ultimately can’t be contained. Opening herself up to her soul mate gives her the purpose she’s been seeking…but at what cost? Will she choose love over living forever?

As of yet, I don’t have a definite release date or any pre-order links. As soon as I know more, I will share the information. Have a great Monday!

A Cover Is Worth A Thousand Words

As I announced on Friday, I had a novella accepted for publication with Siren Bookstrand. Great news! However, when you have something new being published, there comes that inevitable form you have to fill out (which I’m filling out right now and as usual, biting my nails over):

The cover art request sheet.

If you haven’t been traditionally published, I’ll fill you in: MOST publishers give you some say in what you want your cover to look like. You will get a form, through which you get to explain your vision for the cover to the cover artist. This is both great and terrible. Great because, hey, you get a say. Terrible because, do you really know what you want your cover to look like? Have you really thought this through in detail? If you have, and you have a clear vision, good for you. For me, it’s some vague idea or ‘man, I just want it not to suck, okay?’ Also, how in the world do I express exactly what I want to see on the cover? Do they think I’m a writer or something?

Here’s some important tips and things to remember if you gotta fill out that sheet:

  • Your ideas are just that, ideas. You’re probably not going to get exactly what you want, especially if you’re too particular. The project is a collaboration between you and an artist (who hopefully knows a great deal more about cover art than you do) and your suggestions are merely suggestions.
  • The artist has almost probably not read your book, so you’re going to have to be explicit about what the characters look like and what the important themes of the story are.
  • If you absolutely hate the end result, most publishers and artists will work with you to tweak it. On one hand, publishers want you to be happy with the product and not hate the sight of it (they really do). On the other hand, there’s a clause in your contract that states the publisher has the final say on all cover art. The artists aren’t ruthless monsters though, they want you to like the work they do and they want to represent your work faithfully. I’ve only heard a few horror stories of authors who were absolutely repulsed by the covers they ended up with.
  • Check out the other covers your publisher produces. Find ones that are similar to the vision in your head and mention them on the cover art form. Like, “hey I really like the composition in this one, and the colors in this one…”
  • This is something I personally do: most cover art is made from stock photos. I go to stock photo sites and find pictures of people that resemble the characters I see in my head. Then I send links to the artist with notes like “this is what I envision this character to look like, sorta.” It may not be the same stock photo site they use, but it gives the artist an idea of the sort of photos to look for. Sometimes I make comparisons to celebrities as well.
  • Try not to be too terrified on that day when you get the email that has your cover proof attached and you’re going to see it for the first time. Take a deep breath and open that file. You did it!

There’s my tips. Have you ever had a cover you loved, or hated, or had a hard time (or an easy time) getting what you wanted out of it?

When your cover artist ‘gets’ it

The lovely covers for my Siren Song series were created by awesome cover/media artist Fiona Jayde. She works with my publisher and they enlisted her for the job, which made me quite happy. I had seen her work around the writing world many times and was always enamoured with it.

When I received the cover for the first book, The Wicked City, I was a squealy, giddy author indeed. June looks almost exactly like I picture her. I originally envisioned her with shorter hair, but because of the covers, I actually rewrote her to have longer hair because I liked it better. Her tattoos are also pretty spot on. I know it’s hard to create an artistic rendering of a character with a lot of tattoos, so I was quite impressed.

The only thing that baffled me, at first anyway, was why the artist chose to depict her with sunglasses on. There are no descriptions in the book of her wearing sunglasses. I discovered the cover model has sunglasses on in many of her photos (a lot of cover artists use stock photography to make book covers) so I figured this might have been the reason (some pictures there are NSFW, no nudity though).

But after some thought, it struck me. And also, touched me.

In my little made up world, people with exceptionally strong paranormal powers (and that’s not a good thing, trust me) are made obvious by the fact the color of their irises are either super-vibrant or drastically washed out. June has spent her entire life trying to hide the fact she’s paranormal so she can have a simple, regular life, and also because it brought tragedy to her family when she was younger. Except…her eyes are almost luminescent green because of her power, so she can’t hide what she is as well as she’d like. That’s when I realized Fiona made the artistic choice to hide June’s eyes.

This means she either read, or read enough of the book to make that choice, which really gives me a lot of warm fuzzies. I of course don’t expect cover artists to read every book they make a cover for, because then they’d never have time to get any work done. I did fill out a description of June and provided some background on the story for the artist, but I didn’t touch on her eyes that much.

The cover of The Bloody City depicts June much more ragged and her hair kind of unevenly colored because in that book she’s in hiding and has lost focus on vanity and beauty upkeep. The cover for The Burning City manages to capture the more concerned, matured state of mind June has evolved to, and she seems to be more ‘looking toward the future’ than on the previous books. These are all little elements, maybe only things I notice because I wrote it, but it’s always great when the artist ‘gets’ your vision for the story.

So here’s to all great cover artists and how wonderful they make our books look…thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!

I know, I know, I’m two days early. But for those of you who will be too busy with your sweetie this weekend to check blog posts (and I’ll be having a hot date with my job) I figured I’d get the love in early. How will you be spending your Valentine’s Day? Candlelight dinner? Chocolate and Netflix? Wine with your cat? Whether you’re in love or not, remember today to love yourself!

Today is also the one year anniversary of when I broke my wrist. I’m going to celebrate this year by…not breaking any bones!

I also got myself a little Valentine’s Day gift. I had posters made of my Siren Song book covers and framed them. They’re so lovely hanging on my wall! Thank you VistaPrint (which was wonderfully cheap to have them made)! I have my own little ‘wall of fame’ now.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

The Burning City cover reveal!

I have the cover for the third book in my Siren Song urban fantasy series and it’s lovely!

When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?

Tattoo artist June Coffin has another, more hidden talent: she’s a Siren who can influence people with the sound of her voice. But in the wake of a murder and shake-up at the Institute of Supernatural Research, her own powers are starting to kill her. The only chance she has of saving herself—as well as her kidnapped brother and best friend—is to become a vampire. But joining the ranks of the vengeful vamp, Occam Reed, is the last thing June wants to do.

Occam isn’t the only danger June needs to worry about. Power hungry telepath Robbie Beecher will stop at nothing to gain control over Chicago. He’ll destroy anyone who gets in his way—and June’s lover, Sam, is high on the hit list since his bid for Mayor. With the city and June’s heart being pulled in different directions, it’s only a matter of time before the powder keg explodes…and time isn’t something June has much of left. With a city on fire, can she rise from its ashes?

This won’t be released until July 5, 2016, but you can currently pre-order it at major online retailers:

Amazon | B&N | Google | Kobo

They make a lovely little trilogy, don’t they?

Kensington is featuring the cover on their tumblr today too!

I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed and humbled and still trying to fight that Imposter Syndrome so I can believe it’s real. What do you think of the new cover?

Swag on the cheap!

Last week I made a post about how darn broke I am. When you’re broke, you learn how to make do and find clever ways to be resourceful. That being said, I’d like to share one of my resourceful triumphs with you!

A couple weeks ago I learned about a sale Shutterfly was having–I follow blogs that offer freebies, samples, and coupon codes for various services/products, which was how I heard about it. Shutterfly is a photo printing service and I’d never used them before. However, I had a code to get 99 4×6 prints for free, all I had to pay was shipping (which was less than five bucks). I wasn’t sure how my book covers would translate to 4×6 photos, but I figured it was five bucks, I would give it a shot. So I uploaded all my book covers and had some made of each. They arrived today.

And they’re AMAZING!

swag

The picture really doesn’t do justice to how clear, clean, and vibrant the quality is. The only downside is that you can only get a small bit of text printed on the back, which is pretty hard to read. I had (much more expensive) cards made for my first book which had information about the book and my website on the back (however, they weren’t even as good of quality as the pictures I got today):

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I’m not going to complain for five dollars, though! When I hand them out I can just write information on the back. I think in November when my new book and my novella come out, I’ll do a giveaway and include some of them in prize packs.

And that’s how you be a thrifty author!

Cover reveal for One Night In Cleveland

I can now show off the lovely cover for my second contribution to the City Nights series, One Night In Cleveland!

Chef Matt Fattore lives a clean and lawful life—so he doesn’t expect to meet the woman of his wet dreams by being arrested by her. When Lieutenant Caylee Benton of the Cleveland PD mistakes him for a wanted burglar, Matt finds out fantasies sometimes land right in your lap—and frisk you.

Sparks fly despite the misunderstanding and Matt decides to take a chance and ask her out—and maybe, coax her into bed. But Caylee is more than just a beautiful woman with a badge and a gun. While Matt is falling in lust with her, she’ll become his hero, too.

Matt is about to spend the wildest twenty-four hours of his life in Cleveland, and if he’s lucky, he’ll be in handcuffs by the end of the night.

Available November 18, 2015 from Tirgearr Publishing

Pre-order at:

Amazon | Amazon UKSmashwords

(Just 99 cents on Kindle until release day!)

I’m so excited to be part of this series again! As you may remember, I also wrote One Night In Chicago. You may also be aware I actually live in Cleveland, so I’m representing my city in this one. Check out the book page to read an excerpt!

The impact of cover art

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and while that’s true, many people do. Have you ever bought a book because the cover caught your eye? How many times have you seen a well put together cover and felt the urge to read the book based on the cover artist’s prowess? Advertising has a strong influence on all of us, whether we want to believe it or not. And book covers are just that–advertising. A beautiful, compelling, dynamic cover attracts our attention, because that’s the point.

This is by no means a pronouncement that only books with amazing covers are worth reading. You can’t judge a book by its cover. A less-than-amazing cover may house an incredible, compelling story. All I’m saying is you can’t deny the power of advertising and artistry.

I’ve had covers I nearly wept over (in a good way), actually feeling my story was inferior to such an amazing cover. If you’re not an author, you should know: authors get very little say in what their covers look like. Some publishers allow input and ask for suggestions but the publisher has the last say in any disputes (this is often written into the contract).

I’ve been blessed so far, my covers have been created by some amazing artists (click on the covers to see them in their full size detailed glory):

MorganMegan_TheWickedCityThe Wicked City (and the sequels) are done by the amazing Fiona Jayde. I nearly did backflips when I found out she was my cover artist, as she’s one of the best in the business!

The cover for Her Darkest Secret was done by the equally amazing Celairen.

 

 

And the cover One Night In Chicago (and all the City Nights series covers) was done by the extremely talented Cora Graphics.

 

 

 

How about you readers out there–do you judge books by their covers? And if you’re an author, how do you deal with covers you hate and covers you love? Does it fill you with anxiety waiting for the cover art, or are you happy just to have a cover at all? Let’s hear your thoughts!