The Power Of Book Covers – Regan Black @ReganBlack

The Power Of Book Covers

Thanks so much for having me here today. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am gallavanting about the internet with the Bulletproof book tour, all because of the tremendous talents of the staff at Orangeberry Book Tours!

Early in my writing career I was taught that the first sentence of your story makes a promise to the reader and the rest of the book needs to fulfill that promise. The same is true for book covers in that they need to let the reader know what grand adventure, mystery, or romance (or all of the above) is waiting for them behind that breathtaking cover.

With so many books coming available to readers every day, the book cover is the first impression. It has to capture attention, reflect author branding, and accurately convey the mood of the story. In short, it has to rock.

The Bulletproof and Unknown Identities series came about as a collaborative brainstorm with my mentor Debra Webb, author of the acclaimed Faces of Evil series. Talk about book covers that accomplish the goals. Her covers convey the danger and suspense waiting inside, the film strip and colorful backgrounds have become synonymous with the Faces of Evil series and the fonts and titles reinforce her overall author branding.

So when it came time for making decisions about the Bulletproof cover art, I was a step ahead of the game with a romantic suspense marketing guru like Deb in my corner.

The Unknown Identities series focuses on the mysterious heroes who come from dark and dangerous pasts to tackle current missions that could set them free, if they don’t die first. A market study of my target audience and looking at comparable titles in the genre, and we made the final choices for overall look for Bulletproof, Double Vision, and the upcoming titles.

Cover art, like anything is subjective, but only to a point. Market trends within genres have an impact on what a reader expects to see when they are shopping for books. The cover art is the first impression and it needs to meet those current expectations.

While I wouldn’t recommend changing up a cover willy-nilly, it’s necessary to learn what readers will respond to. Keeping tabs on how comparative titles are presenting themselves can be essential to knowing when it’s time to try something new.

I remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first Dark Hunter novel, Fantasy Lover. The cover featured a stunningly hot painting of a Greek god. But on the following reprints the publisher changed up the cover art to coordinate with the subsequent covers in the series. I loved that original cover (and I’m glad I still have my autographed copy) but it was a smart move as it let readers know the books were connected.

Book covers are a little like the fashion industry as the trends come and go and leaders in each genre set the pace. These days changes crop up even faster with myriad new options available to readers on any given day. I’m grateful for the experts and the tools that guide me and help me respond quickly and positively to reader expectations.

Do you have a favorite ‘cover style’ from the past or present?

Live the adventure!

Regan

Bulletproof

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – R

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Connect with  Regan Black on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.reganblack.com

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Whitley & Austin, Where Truth and Fiction Meet by Parker Paige @parkerpaige86

Daylight savings time brought in the night sky earlier this time of year. At five o’clock, darkness had already fallen when Charlie arrived home. It would have helped to open her mini-blinds once in a while. Instead, they remained closed while she enjoyed the sense of freedom it induced, freedom to do whatever, without being watched.

Her visit to her family’s gravesite seemed to have worsened her mental state. She believed that maybe, just maybe, if she traveled there a second time, she might finally move past her anguish. She wanted to move forward, but at that point, all she wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up.

Her once semi-contented spirit was now replaced with a somber one, and she considered taking a nap in the early evening. After she thawed out from the cold, she poured herself a glass of Chardonnay in her rose-colored champagne glass. She didn’t even bother to remove her coat as she stood at the kitchen counter. She began drinking after the death of her family, probably because her sister used to drink wine with her dinner all the time. Somehow Charlie adopted that habit as her own. Only in Charlie’s case, more times than not, no dinner accompanied this new practice. Though not a permanent solution, it served its purpose for now.

Charlie hung up her coat and after two long sips of Chardonnay, she found herself standing in the center of the living room. Her eyes panned across several eclectic hand-painted pictures of flowing water, which lay on the floor against the sofa.

With the temperature outside reaching almost freezing, winter made its presence to the city early, but she found great comfort from the intense heat that circled her apartment. Her eyes perused the mantle of the framed family portrait. She couldn’t help but focus on her sister. The picture seemed to stare back at her as she remembered how her sister Sandy always cared for her, looked out for her and encouraged her to value herself for her own unique abilities and talents. Now Sandy was gone, all because of the secret life she chose to live, a secret life which led to her demise.

Encouraging, compassionate, adventurous and free-spirited were the words that best described her sister, Sandy, which explained Charlie’s private wish to be like her. Charlie felt her eyes well up with tears; so much that she could barely see the picture in front of her. She then headed into the bathroom and stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She stared at the bun in her hair, which gave her the appearance of an astute and very plain-Jane librarian. When she removed the large hairpin, her dark brown hair splashed against her shoulders. A few grey strands patterned the sides of her head, and it could only be stress because she was only a few days shy of her thirtieth birthday. With a somber expression on her face, Charlie stared at her reflection in the mirror, the tears trailing down her face.

How could she go on without her family?

How could she go on without her sister Sandy? She just wanted the pain to stop, all the suffering and all the heartache. As she contemplated putting an end to her emotional pain, she removed the belt from her corduroy pants, then gently placed the belt around her neck. With a determined gesture, she buckled the belt around her neck. She pulled it snug, tighter and tighter until she could hardly breathe and a wonderful thought came to mind.

This could end it all. Right here. And right now. All the suffering and all the heartache could be a thing of the past, and she would not have to live another day. Charlie continued to stare at the reflection of hopelessness on her face and surprisingly, out of nowhere, she heard a female voice ring out from the other room, calling her name.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

It startled her, and she thought she must be hearing things, but as quickly as she dispelled the voice, it rang out again. This time louder and longer.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

The voice sounded so familiar, too familiar. It was the voice of her sister, Sandy. Charlie released the belt from her neck and hurried into the front room. But the voice mysteriously stopped. Charlie stood there motionless, wiping the tears from her eyes, wondering if she was losing her mind when she heard the voice again.

“Charlieeeee? Charlieeeeeee?”

This time it came directly from the full-length hall mirror, framed with dark red trimming. Charlie approached the mirror fast, and to her amazement, in her own reflection was an image of her sister Sandy. She was as beautiful as always, long curly red hair, flawless makeup and a smile that could light up any room. She was draped with expensive shiny earrings and necklaces to match. She was the elegant side of Charlie, if Charlie possessed red hair and were not so plain looking. If this was how you look once you die, then Charlie could not wait until it was her turn.

But this didn’t make any sense. How could her sister be in her reflection when her sister was dead? In shock, Charlie turned her eyes away from the mirror for a moment before returning her focus to it, but, still, an image of her smiling sister remained.

“Is that you, Sandy?” Charlie asked.

“How are you, Charlie?”

“It is you,” Charlie uttered in amazement. She was stumped for words. Here she was having a conversation with her dead sister. “I don’t understand. I thought you were─”

“Dead,” Sandy said, finishing Charlie’s sentence. “I’ve been so worried about you, Charlie. I thought you might need someone to talk to.”

“You did?” Charlie asked, as a tear made its way down her face.

Her sister’s words brought back many memories, memories of times when her sister stepped in to comfort her in times of great need. And now was definitely one of those times. Sandy seemed to have a flair for sensing when Charlie was in need of her assistance.

Charlie touched the mirror, hoping to connect with Sandy, but Sandy was just an image.

“I saw what you were about to do in there,” Sandy said. “I’m disappointed that you allowed yourself to become so hopeless.”

Charlie was speechless. Not just because her sister was right, but because she was curious how her sister always seemed to know these things.

“It’s certainly not the answer,” Sandy continued. “And I think you know that.”

“You’re right. I do know better. Of course I wasn’t really going to do it. I just needed to toy with the idea for a moment and exorcise my demons, if only to realize my foolishness.”

“Are you feeling any better now?”

“Only because you’re here with me. I miss you so much, Sandy. I don’t think I can make it without you.”

“Of course you can. You’re stronger than you think.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Do you remember who loves you no matter what?”

Charlie didn’t even think about it before she blurted out, “Sandy loves me.”

“That’s right and don’t you ever forget it. I have to go now, but we’ll talk again soon.”

“Don’t go, Sandy. Please don’t go.”

Charlie didn’t move her eyes from the mirror, hoping that if she didn’t blink, Sandy might not disappear. But it was no use.

Sandy was gone.

Whitley_Austin

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with  Parker Paige on Twitter

Website parkerpaige.wordpress.com

Why Book Covers are So Important – Regan Black

Why Book Covers are So Important

Thanks so much for having me here today. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I get to reveal a new look for the Shadows of Justice series with the help of Orangeberry Book Tours!

Early in my writing career I was taught that the first sentence of your story makes a promise to the reader and the rest of the book needs to fulfill that promise. The same is true for book covers in that they need to create the mood and let the reader know what grand adventure, mystery, or romance (or all of the above) is waiting for them behind that cover.

The new look for the five Shadows of Justice novels: Justice Incarnate, Invasion of Justice, Veil of Justice, Tracking Shadows, and Shadows to Light is all about honoring where I’ve come from as an author as well as celebrating where I’m headed.

Cover art, like anything is subjective, but only to a point. Market trends within genres have an impact on what a reader expects when they are shopping for books. The cover art is the first impression and it needs to be the best it can be.

While I wouldn’t recommend changing up a cover willy-nilly, it’s necessary to learn what readers respond to. Keeping tabs on how comparative titles are presenting themselves can be essential to knowing when it’s time to try something new.

This dynamic redesign has been months in the planning and I couldn’t have done it without a supportive team of friends, artists, and tech experts. And I can safely say all of us are thrilled to share it with the rest of the world.

I remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s first Dark Hunter novel, Fantasy Lover. The cover featured a painting of a Greek god and was beyond hot and sexy. But on the following reprints the publisher changed up the cover art to better match the covers in the rest of the series. I loved that original cover (and I’m glad I still have my autographed copy) but it was a smart move as it let readers know the books were connected.

While I adored the previous design of the Shadows of Justice novels and those covers stood out among similar books at the time of publication, things have changed a great deal in a few short years. Romance readers are the biggest book buyers – they always have been – and the previous covers didn’t accurately convey the romance at the heart of each of the novels.

If I’ve learned anything about my writing during my journey, it’s that I have been and always will be a “happily ever after” kind of author. Romantic love is an essential part of real life and that treasured joyful relationship will continue to be an essential part of the stories I tell.

Book covers are a little like the fashion industry as the marketing trends come and go and leaders in each genre set the pace. But it happens on an even faster scale with so many options available to readers these days. I’m grateful for those options and the tools that help me respond positively to reader expectations.

Do you have a favorite ‘cover style’ from the past or present?

Live the adventure!

Regan

Justice Incarnate

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Genre – Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.reganblack.com

The Making of a Sensational Best Seller – London Tracy

The Making of a Sensational Best Seller

It should warm every writer’s heart knowing that even if he or she does not obtain an agent, or find a publisher to publish their work, that they can self-publish for FREE and set the world on fire with their sensational work of fiction.

Since “50 Shades of Grey,” there have been other authors trying to copy the style and flavor, by attempting to write even more intriguing porn, but the boom has yet to happen, and the reason is simple. No one really knows what the secret is to sensational success. Even if there was such a formula, every book published would be a sensation, and we know that is not going to happen.

Even if there was a formula, it would probably only work the first time because if it were duplicated, it would no longer translate into a sensation. Case in point: Several years ago, a founder of a nonprofit organization wanted to get the attention of Oprah Winfrey so he paid for a billboard sign a block from where Oprah worked, thinking that she might see it. He was right. She did see it, and he was invited on the show. A month later, another person tried it, paid for a billboard sign and absolutely nothing came of it. You have one time to make your mark.

Back to the subject at hand, based on a book such as “50 Shades of Grey,” I theorize that there are three characteristics of a sensation.

(1) Dynamic lead character. When I say, dynamic, I mean original and eccentric. This is a character like no one we have met before. Think Christian Grey. How many men do you know who requires that his female partner sign a contract before they engage in the sexual act. Like I said, original.

(2) Intriguing story that resonates with millions. Think “Eat, Pray, Love.” How many women identified with the premise of a woman taking a year off to find herself.

(3) Memorable scenes that demand to be shared with the world. Think “The Help.” How could you not tell people what Minnie did to her ex-employer’s pie.

A sensational story is like interviewing for a job by millions of people and having at least one-half of them love and adore you. How hard is that? How do you get that many people to love and adore you? Two words: New and different.

I think about books that come out every day. Most books are seldom read by millions of readers and have a very limited audience, even some best sellers. It takes a very special kind of book to attract millions of readers. And the reason is simple.

Most books are similar to all the others on the market. The stories and characters are basically the same. However, “50 Shades of Grey” gave us something new and different, a character we never met before and water-cooler scenes galore.

If a book cannot deliver new and different, then there is no sensation.

London Tracy is an author, screenwriter and freelance writer. She is the author of “Your Life Story Could Be a Best Seller” and “The Curse.”

The Curse

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Genre – Comedy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://londontracy.wordpress.com

Lori Ryan – Character building for writers @loriryanauthor

Character building for writers

One of the hardest parts about writing fiction is being able to step out of yourself and create characters that feel authentic to your readers. Here are five ways to help get your characters right.

  1. Know every detail of your character’s life. What is your character’s birthday? Where did he or she go to school? Does your character have siblings? What, if any, traumatic experiences have they had in life? How many times has your character moved in life? Favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite flavor of milk shake? Favorite book? Favorite music? Favorite restaurant? Favorite television show? Favorite movie?
  2. Know how your character speaks. Accent? Swearing? Short, clipped sentences or overly verbose? Favorite sayings? Do they joke around or are they serious?
  3. Know what your character does with their time and who they spend time with. Who are your character’s best friends? Who do they work with? What do they like to do for fun on weekends? What things do they feel obligated to do in life but don’t truly enjoy? What does a typical workday look like? What does a typical weekend include?
  4. Know how your character dresses. How does your character dress? Do they spend time making sure their clothes are not wrinkled and look presentable or do they grab the cleanest thing from the laundry pile and call it good? Does your character have a sense of fashion? Can they afford to buy anything they want to wear or do they shop at big box stores or thrift shops?
  5. Know what they drive and where they live. What kind of car does your character drive? Is this their first car or have they had others? Did they buy it new or used? Where does your character live? Do they own or rent? Is this the first home they have owned? Can they pay the mortgage easily or is it a struggle?

Another key to good character building is to be sure there is a different “feel” and “sound” to each of your characters in your book. If all of your characters sound the same and think the same, your book won’t seem authentic.

Good characters can sweep you into a story and make you get lost in the book. Keep working on your character building!

Lori Ryan writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She is frequently ranked in the top 100 romantic suspense authors on Amazon.com. To find her work, visit http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CFUKD1E.

NegotiationTactics

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Genre –  Romantic Suspense

Rating – R

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Connect with Lori Ryan on Facebook & Twitter

Bio:

Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. She lives with an extremely understanding husband, two wonderful children, two mostly-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has written three more books since then. Each of Lori’s books have made their way to the Amazon bestseller list and she quickly climbed the Amazon bestselling author list, as well. In November, 2013, Lori and a group of romantic suspense authors landed on the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists with an anthology only eight months after the release of Lori’s first book. Lori loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog. Oh, and if you’ve read Lori’s books and loved them, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com. Writers live and die by their reviews and Lori promises to do a happy dance around her office every time you write one!

5 Writing Tips by Ben Galley @BenGalley

Tip 1: Write a great book

The future of any author rests on none other than a great book, as it always has.

Of course – ‘great’ means many different things to many different people. Not every bestseller is a work of genius, but they sell because they are popular with masses of readers. They could be popular great because they engage, or challenge, or cross boundaries, or inspire. That is the mark of a great book – not just its literary quality, but what it does to the reader. Great books make people talk, and those are the books that sell and will keep selling.

So how exactly do we write a great book? Well, that’s the hard part. Firstly, through practice. Even the best writers on the planet are still writing and practicing, every day. And when you write, you should always strive for the best quality of writing that you can, and strive to engage the reader. Aim high. Do something different. Have a solid and airtight plot. Create deep and varied characters and worlds. Spend time thinking about what you want your book to do and say.

Tip 2: Get a great cover:

So once you’ve finished your book, it’s time to start polishing it – making it into a professional and sellable product.

The cover is the packaging of your book, and therefore the first point of contact for a reader. Contrary to the old adage, readers will judge books by their cover. They make up their minds about a book’s genre, price, quality, and therefore whether they want to buy it, in the first few seconds. This is why it is important to get not just a good cover, but a great one. You want it to match all the effort you’ve put into its contents.

Cover design is an area where many indie, or self-publishing, authors fall down, mainly due to the fact that good graphic design costs money, and also due to the fact that people assume they can DIY it. Unfortunately, unless you are a professional designer, this simply isn’t true.

I always recommend outsourcing a professional. Anything less simply won’t cut the mustard. In today’s market, indie books need to be indistinguishable from traditional books, both to shrug off any preconceptions and also to rise above the huge volume of poor-quality books now on the market.

Tip 3: Editing it to perfection:

Editing is as important as cover design, and another area that a huge amount of indies get wrong. What’s vital about editing is that it affects your marketing.

Unfortunately, there’s a certain stigma about indie books. A large amount of readers expect them to be full of errors and mistakes, due to the fact they haven’t been through a publishing house. We need to shrug off that stigma. Bad editing can mean bad reviews, scuppering your sales. As with cover design, we should be aiming for a professional standard. You need to do that great book of yours justice.

There are two ways to edit your books – either hire a freelance editor, or DIY. The first is expensive, while the second is difficult, as few authors are professional editors. I would always recommend the first – shelling out for a good editor. Or, like me, if you don’t want to shell out for an editor, you can use beta readers.

Beta reading, or crowd-editing as it is sometimes known, is a way of using multiple semi-pro editors. You ask a number of people (I recommend avid readers, honest fans, English teachers, professionals etc) to proofread and give detailed feedback on your manuscript. You get your book edited to a professional standard, and in return your betas get a sneak peek of your book, a free copy, perhaps even a mention in the dedication – whatever you want to offer!

Tip 4: Market it, and then market it again:

So, you’ve published yourself a great product, now you need to sell it. How? Well, gone are the days (if they even existed!) when simple availability resulted in sales. Due to the sheer volume of books now in the market, a book (even a great book!) that isn’t being marketed will be drowned out and make few, if any, sales. Marketing is a must for today’s indie author.

As we discussed, people spread the word about a good book, and this is the biggest key to marketing – Word of mouth.

A good website is paramount, followed closely by good blurbs, bios, and a professional appearance. Next up is getting readers. Social media is a good place to start. Twitter and Facebook, don’t convert very well into sales but are good for being, you guessed it – social. By following and engaging with people on a social level they will be more likely to read and recommend your books.

Customer reviews are also very important. Readers put a lot of stock in reviews, so having a lot of positive reviews will really help sales. Source as many as you can from the readers you meet on Twitter on Facebook, and also contact book blogs and ask for reviews. Comments from respected and well-known sites will also add a little validity to your book.

Basically, get talking!

Tip 5: Give it time and effort:

Lastly, you need to give it time and effort.

Simply having a book on a shelf will not make you millions overnight. Skill can gain you some success and income, but effort and time is also needed, as we’ve seen above.

Perseverance is needed too, and I urge everyone to keep working and keep trying. It will seem like you’re getting nowhere fast at first. It may seem overwhelming, but marketing is a day by day, reader by reader process. Keep at it, attack from every angle, and trust me, you will have a shot at success.

Good luck out there.

Ben Galley is a young indie author from sunny England. The author of the epic and dark fantasy series – The Emaneska Series, he has published five books so far, and has many more on the way. Ben is very zealous about helping other indie authors, and provides self-publishing advice and services via his website Shelf Help, which can be found at http://www.bengalley.com.

theWrittenj

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Genre –  Epic Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.bengalley.com

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna @RachelHannaBook

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna

by: Rachel Hanna

1. I love dogs. I have two dogs now, but I can’t imagine ever living without dogs in the house. If I had land, I’d probably be taking in stray animals all the time. My family calls me Dr. Doolittle because I seem to attract all kinds of strange animals to our house!

2. I’ve never lived anywhere else but the state of Georgia. While I love Georgia and many of my stories are situated here, I would love to live closer to a beach somewhere!

3. I hate spiders! I think anything that has that many legs shouldn’t exist, except maybe octopuses. Any kind of spider, big or small, will send me screeching out of the room.

4. As a child, I loved to write stories but also poetry. I won many poetry contests all throughout elementary school and middle school, but then I gave it up for some reason. I haven’t written poetry since I was probably in early high school.

5. One of my hobbies is selling items on eBay. In fact, I am in eBay Powerseller which means that I used to make a very substantial income when I did it part time. I don’t have as much time for it these days, I still enjoy going to garage sales and thrift stores looking for that treasure.

6. My favorite movie in the world is Gone With The Wind. I have loved it since I was forced to watch it in history class in the eighth grade. My room was always decorated with memorabilia, bedroom door. Even now, I watch the movie when it’s on. Strangely enough, I’ve never read the book!

7. I hate seafood and fish. I won’t eat any kind of seafood at all. For some reason, the smell and the texture just grosses me out. I’ve tried so many times over the years to like fish, but I just can’t do it. The only exception might be canned tuna fish, but even that bothers me sometimes.

8. One time, I had to beat up a girl in the woods at the park. These girls tried to attack me, my friend and her little sister when we were only in elementary school. We were simply walking a nature trail when these teenage girls came out of the woods. That’s the first and only time I’ve had to fight in my life. As soon as I got a chance, I grabbed my friend’s little sister and ran out of the woods.

9. We homeschool all three of our children and have since our oldest was in kindergarten.

10.I was a sports reporter in college. That meant that part of my job was to go into the locker room and interview players. I’m not talking about college players, but professional ones. I was in and out of locker rooms for famous football, baseball and hockey teams. I was the only woman at the time in the locker room, so it always made for an interesting time! Let’s just say that when a woman is in the locker room, the boys tend to show off and walk around wearing very little clothing. :)

Ruined 

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Genre – New  Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Connect with  Rachel Hanna on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rachelhannaromance.com/