Tuesday, October 18, 2011

4 Step eBook Cover Design

A past post revealed the title of the novel I plan to release in December 2011. In case you missed it, the title is Fram Gage & The Infinite Ability. Now that I've let that out of the bag, it's time to show you the cover for the eBook. (Note: This cover will also be used for the print edition.)

The philosophy Forever Young Publishing has is always "Less is more". The challenge with writing, cover design, or anything in general is conveying the most amount of information with as little as possible. For cover design, FYP breaks this down into four simple steps:

Step 1: Background

The background is important because it will help set the tone for the book. In some cases, a color might be used for the background, in other cases it might be an image. For Fram Gage & The Infinite Ability I chose an abstract background that I thought fit the story well. This image was created by Diego Barucco and you can find more of his work by going to his Dreamstime.com Artist's Page. I took the image and cropped it to work with the piece.  The outer edges had some bright blue colors, and these caused a problem going into Step 2 of the design because it made it harder to read the Author Name and Book Title.

[caption id="attachment_2056" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Image © Diego Barucco"][/caption]

Step 2: Title & Author Byline

The next step gets the name of the book and the author's name in place. I chose the font Franchise Bold. This font worked perfect for the book. It gives it a strong look and feel. I also colored the type in a shade of yellow. This contrasts nicely with the background and serves another purpose. It's important to remember with eBooks that many times the cover is first viewed as a thumbnail image as people browse for books to read. This means the text needs to be clearly read at a small size. So I made the title and author name large, bold, and bright. Also, if someone browses for a book on their Kindle or Nook, it needs to look good in black and white, too. This leads into Step 3.

Step 3: Enhancing the Type

Looking at the above image, the Title and Author Name definitely stand out, but in my opinion they look rather flat. On printed books, you're probably used to seeing the title embossed. This helps it pop out a little as the potential buyer is looking for a book. Obviously, you can't literally make the text pop off the screen with an eBook. So a different approach is needed. In this case, I actually did a debossing effect by adding a shadow, not to the outside of the letters, but inside them. This gives some depth to the words. When viewing at a larger size, it is like they sink into the cover. At the same time, the effect does not negatively impact the thumbnail view of the cover.

Step 4: Story Image

The final step involves adding an image to the cover that ties in to the title and/or the story itself. In this case, I'm focusing on the Inifinite in Fram Gage & The Inifinite Ability. The choice was obvious: an infinity symbol. Instead of placing the symbol in white, I tried to make it a little more subtle. The image is there, but it is translucent. This allows you to see the background coming through the symbol. Pure white would have been too glaring, causing the eyes to fixate on the symbol. My goal is to make your eyes take in the cover as a whole and look at it as one piece with a center, the infinity symbol. I actually wanted the symbol to be more subtle, but at the thumbnail size this posed a problem because it made it very hard to see it. So I settled on what you see below.

[caption id="attachment_2055" align="aligncenter" width="100" caption="Thumbnail Version"][/caption]

That's it! Above is the final cover for Fram Gage & The Infinite Ability. This cover fits the book well, and I couldn't be happier with it. Of course, that's only my opinion because I'm the writer of the book and designer of the cover. What are your thoughts? Do you like it?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Problem With Superman

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Photo From http://dc.wikia.com"][/caption]

Superheroes have been quite the rage over the past 10 years. This mostly is because of movies. The entertainment industry has been able to adapt these comics  that go back 40, 50, 60, or more years, and turn them into fun entertainment. I enjoy them, and I'm sure you do, too.

I like pretty much every superhero, including Spider-Man and Batman. I even like Superman, despite some issues I have with him as a superhero.

You see, there's a problem with Superman. He is ... well ... Super. Nothing defines the superhero category better than a Super Man. In fact, he's so super that he's indestructible. Guess what? He can see through things, too.

But wait, there's more!

Superman can fly! He can run super fast! He can shoot hot laser beams through his eyes and blow bone-chilling, freezing air from his mouth! He's strong , too! He can lift whole airplanes, and probably bigger stuff!

But wait, there's even more!

Superman can jump a whole stinkin' building in one leap! It's not good enough that he could just fly over it, he has to bring himself down to the more common man level and jump high, too! What a show off. Did I mention that even his superhero outfit is super? I never saw it get completely burned off in a fire, and apparently he has a never ending wardrobe of the outfit.

But he does get weak. Only one thing makes him weak. In fact, if you are a villain or even a supervillain, just turn around and go back if you don't have the thing that makes him weak. Why? Because if you can't weaken Superman, he's super. He cannot be stopped. Nothing beats absolute super. So you better have some kryptonite or your opportunity to take over the world will be foiled by Superman.

Don't you think it would be better if Superman had limited control of his powers? Let's say he needed to stop a plane in the sky. Instead of flying up, grabbing it, and bringing it down for a safe landing, don't you think it would be a lot more interesting if he got into the air but had troubling controlling which way he moved? Maybe the plane is front heavy, and he accidentally tips it while bringing it in for a landing, causing all the people inside to roll up to the cockpit. I can see them now, tumbling over and over, rolling their eyes and saying, "Must be Superman is here again to save the day!"

I think you get my point. Superman is nearly a pointless superhero, because he's impervious to any attack but kryptonite. Granted, I've been out of the comic book loop for a while, so maybe there's more I don't know. At the end of the day, a superhero is super, but I also think he needs to be balanced out with weakness. Even if the hero has a lot of powers, keep him from using them constantly.

Think about it: Do you ever really feel like Superman is in danger? I don't. He'll always get out of the situation. Batman? Oh yeah. He could die with one false move. Spider-Man? Definitely. He's so busy worrying about his personal life, you know a slip-up is coming at some point that will get him hurt or worse.

But Superman? He's great and all, but I can't help and think that his plethora of powers lends itself to the least interesting stories.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Gabriel's Return by Steve Umstead

If you recall, I reviewed the book Gabriel's Redemption by Steve Umstead back in the Spring. The author contacted me and asked if I would like to review the next book in the series, Gabriel's Return, and I have to say that I'm very glad that I did!

As with all of my reviews, I'm not going to talk about the plot here. That's for you to enjoy when you curl up with your Kindle (or other eReader) and a cup of tea or coffee. But I will bring out a number of things about the book I enjoyed.

Gabriel's Return starts off fast, forcing you to dive into the story. I really appreciated this. As you might recall, my major complaint with Gabriel's Redemption was that it took a long time, nearly half the book, before I felt like the pace of the story was moving at full steam. Gabriel's Return is nothing like that.

Hats off to the author, too, for making the planet of Eden so believable. As the characters traverse the planet, it feels alive and real. It's definitely the most enjoyable part of the entire book, and in some ways, I wish the author would have expanded on the planet. I mean that in a positive way. That's a sign of a believable story and world: When the reader can't get enough and wants to know more. Umstead does a fantastic job of this.

Overall, I really liked Gabriel's Return and I have to say I'm looking forward to the next story (which this book sets up nicely). If you haven't read the first book, don't fret. I think you can get along just fine with this one. But don't let that statement stop you. Both books are good and worthy of your time for recreation.

Pros +

  • Story picks up in the first pages, getting you right into the action

  • Very believable planet of Eden

  • Fantastic twist near the end of the story (I didn't see it coming!)

Cons -

  • The second quarter of the story is a little slow, but picks up again halfway through

  • It might be me, but the politics stuff was a little confusing. Without telling you why (don't want to ruin the story), I 'll just say I had trouble making sense of it

  • Evan Gabriel, the main character. I feel distant from him. Knowing more about him through the narrative would be nice

You can pick up your copy of Gabriel's Return on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords if you have another eReader device.

Don't forget about Gabriel's Redemption! That's also available on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords.

Be sure to check out Steve Umstead's web site to get the latest on the Evan Gabriel Trilogy and anything else he has going on! www.steveumstead.com

The author has graciously given me copy of Gabriel's Return and Gabriel's Redemption to give away to my readers. All you have to do is comment below to win!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Can Because You're Able

[caption id="attachment_2015" align="aligncenter" width="294" caption="Photo © Ahmet Ihsan Ariturk"][/caption]

In life, we all strive for something. When we're young, we can't wait to graduate from high school. Next, we look forward to a career. After that, we want to get married, have children, and the list goes on.

Sometimes, our goal is big. It's grand. Other times, it's small. It's nothing. It could be writing a novel, or it could be mowing your lawn.

One thing is certain, no matter how big or small the goal is, you will meet with opposition. It could be an excuse you make up to not do something, it could be others holding you back. Whatever it is, if you don't fight the resistance, you lose. It will come up and bite you in the hind like a lion chasing down a zebra. You'll never finish that book and you'll never mow your lawn.

This means you need to find an inner strength. An ability you failed to realized you possessed. You have to let it come to the fore and fight the opposition. This ability has to help you reach your goal. It has to move you forward. In every case, your ability is stronger than the opposition. Your ability can win. It is only when you start believing your ability is weaker than the resistance that you fail. This is because you believe a lie. You believe the resistance is more powerful.

Never give in to this line of thinking. There's a saying from the movie Back To The Future,  and it has stayed with me my entire life since I heard it as a child.

"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."

That statement is so true, and perhaps you have experienced it yourself. Maybe you haven't though. Maybe you've only seen what you strived for has failed. Ask yourself, "Did it fail because I didn't try? Because I gave into the resistance? Or did it fail because, despite my hardest efforts, it simply failed?"

The way to know is to try. Everything in life has its ups and downs. Whatever comes at you, remember the above. It will help you greatly! Even when you fail, your ability will help you bounce back to try again and move forward. That's how you win.

On that note, the final word in the title of my novel needs to be revealed, and it is below. My next post will reveal the cover for the book. So stay tuned for that. Currently, this is what I have revealed in regards to the title:

Fram Gage and The Infinite A.

Now, I'm guessing you read everything above. You probably figured out what the 'A' stands for. If not, here it is. The 'A' stands for Ability.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September 2011 Sales Numbers

Another month of sales passes. While September, in some respects appeared slow, it was steady. I can attribute part of this to finally getting sales reports in from Apple, Diesel, and Kobo. While Apple & Diesel contributed one sale each for The Present, Kobo accounted for eight free sales of Copy Bird.

Speaking of Copy Bird, all is not as bad as it seems. On September 19th, Amazon bumped the price of the eBook back up to $0.99 US. I thought that was the end of watching the fun, as in one and a half months Copy Bird sold 4,800 copies. But I was wrong. Now that it got into Amazon's system and filtered through their algorithms, Copy Bird has consistently sold around two copies every day. This is good news because they are paying consumers, which means, if they like my work, they might search out more. Let's hope so!

I also released a new book, although the content isn't new besides its introduction. In eBook and print format you can now get all the stories that make up Book 1 of Miscorrection. It is entitled Miscorrection: Book 1 (Sunrise to Sundown). While there aren't any sales of it yet, I expect I'll see them over time.

Overall, this month expands on August, which had 22 sales. The growth comes in at around 50%, which is great! I doubt I can keep that pace, but if I do that would be awesome.

A special thanks to all the paying readers of my books. I greatly appreciate your support!

Here are my paid book sales for September 2011:

Total Paid Sales: 37

This month, I'm trying something different. I want to see what no marketing does. I'll still post things on my blog, but I will not advertise links to buy my books on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. It might be a mistake, but it will be an interesting experiment. Until next month... What a dumb idea! What was I thinking?