Category Archives: marketing

The Writing Life: Pitching in Person

Organized Tables, Valencia, Spain, March 2007Now that I’ve moved into traditionally marketing some of my book again, I’ve found that I get much better responses to queries when I give them in person than when I send them by email. This is something new and scary for me. I’ve only verbally pitched agents and editors a grand total of nine times, the last two just on Friday at the Portland Writing Workshop. But this limited experience means I’m also still close to the terror of doing so, because it can be quite terrifying. If you’re also new at this, here’s a quick list of what I’ve discovered learning to do it:

1) Verbal pitches work best when they are NOT the same as a query letter.

This isn’t too surprising, since written words and conversations are totally different. That’s not to say many people don’t just sit down and read their query, and the agent/editor will tolerate that, but that’s also pretty stiff. A personal connection is important when pitching. So when you prepare the pitch ahead of time, pare down the query into something about half. It should still introduce the characters, tension, and stakes of the book, but as concisely as possible. That leaves room for the agent/editor to ask questions after you give the pitch, and you can elaborate on the other aspects of the novel then. You need a prepared pitch, so you don’t blank out on talking about your novel, but ultimately it’s the conversation you want–like telling a friend about your book.

2) Make a copy of your pitch in large print or type and more space to reference. 

It’s amazing how small 12 point font in a solid paragraph looks when sitting there face to face with an agent/editor. I either double space my pitch in 16 point font or hand write it with every other line left blank on the notebook paper. If you’re pretty good at public speaking you might even just have your pitch in the form of bullet points so you can refer to them easily. The idea is, when you’re talking about your book and your brain hits a blank spot, you can just glance down and see where you left off and trigger the rest of it.

3) Practice aloud. Lots. And with other people as well as on your own.

Speaking and reading silently are totally different. You want your pitch to roll off the tongue smoothly. You want to sound polished. You don’t have to memorize it, but if you read it aloud over and over, eventually you should be able to go a couple sentences each time without looking at it, and just glance back down at it for the next bit.

Even better, practice with other people. The other people giving pitches at the event are great people to practice with. Each take a turn pitching. Practice making eye contact and sounding excited about your work (because you are, even if you’re also terrified). Then listen to their feedback and adjust your pitch if you need to. When you listen to theirs, ask questions about their book. What sorts of things does their pitch make you want to know about the book? Hopefully they will ask questions too.

4) Research the agents and editors at the event ahead of them.

Some events require you to pick the people when you register, some events you wait in line to pitch to the people you favor. Either way, you should research all the people you plan to pitch online ahead of time. A piece of paper with a few notes under each one to keep them straight during the event is a good idea.

I’ve found it’s also really handy to have this for ALL the agents/editors at the event, not just the ones you’re planning on pitching to. Sometimes there’s extra spaces for you to get in more pitches. On Friday’s event I could have signed up for some extra sessions, but since I hadn’t planned on it, I couldn’t remember which genres the remaining agents represented and so missed my chance. Sometimes the agent/editor you pitch to explains you’ve classified your genre wrong  and should try other people who represent that genre. This happened to me last summer, but luckily the event had a sheet with all the agents and what the represented in my program.

5) Treat the session as half job interview, half talking to a friend.

Before my first pitch, I was completely terrified, so I kept asking the people ahead of me how theirs went. Everyone kept saying things like, well, they’re just people, friendly people, and I relaxed and had a good time. Right. I wasn’t buying that, until I actually had my pitch session. I found that by the end of it, I totally had relaxed and just related to the agents/editors as people. Everything they’d said was true. It was like talking to a friend about writing… just a bit more formal. Be sure you have your written pitch and a pen/pencil.

Here’s my breakdown of the meeting:

Introduce yourself – Even if you have a name tag, this helps trigger normal social skills and make this a more pleasant interaction.

Tell the person if you’re overly nervous – There’s nothing wrong with saying, this is my first pitch/time doing this or I’m new at this, boy am I nervous. If you’re shaking or something, it’s even better to, first because saying it aloud will help calm your nerves, and second because chances are the agent/editor will say outright, that’s alright, don’t worry, just relax, or some other helpful response. If they’re a jerk about it, then you know they aren’t the right agent/editor for you anyway.

Give your pitch – It’s good to make eye contact. Don’t sweat reading/saying your pitch exactly the way you wrote it, so long as you cover all the points/ideas you meant to. Brief is good, because it allows for the next step.

Expect questions – If you’re pitch has done its job, the agent/editor will want to know more. They’ll ask you about your book or sometimes about you or your goals.  If there’s time, you can also ask any questions of your own you have. If they ask for materials, make sure you write down what (query, pages, synopsis), who (name and email), and how to title it (since many people use filters). Sometimes they’ll give you a business card, but taking a couple quick notes are useful when you’re trying to send the right stuff to the right person later.

Thank them – These sessions are timed usually, so this is brief and you may not have time to shake their hand, but nothing ends a pitch session than a big smile and a, “Thank you so much.”

 

Calico Avengers have arrived!

Calico Avengers (blog)I’m excited to announce that Captain Bull and the Calico Avengers is finally out in the world!

Captain Pit Bull is the terror of the seven seas, plundering ships traveling to Catland with his team of scurvy sea dogs. Two young kittens, Patrick and Nathaniel, are galley slaves, chained to the oars below deck. With the help of the brave cabin pup Rifky, the kittens escape. Patrick swears to return and defeat Captain Bull, but can he do it before the pirate captain realizes Rifky’s mutiny?

This is a shorter chapter book, for ages 8 to 10 in reading level.  The cover is illustrated by Leo DeBruyn but the inside art is my own. I’m a bit nervous about that… while I’ve had one piece of my cat and dog art in a traveling art show in college, this is the first time it’s been published in a book. I don’t generally consider myself an illustrator, but at various points in my life people have insisted my cat and dog drawings out to be out there. When my family heard I was publishing this story, every single one of them insisted I should illustrate it. So, there you have it.

Calico Avengers is actually one of my earliest novel ideas. I remember coming up with it clearly, lying under on the floor listening to my father play music. The original idea was a Redwall fanfiction, involving mice heroes and rat villains. Eventually the heroes discovered their father was the warrior of Redwall and Salamandastrom featured somewhere along the line with all the usually suspects. Despite rationally knowing fanfiction couldn’t go anywhere (there were pretty much no outlets for that in the 1990s, really) the story took a hold of me with a fierceness that got me through writing down about half of it.

It wasn’t long afterwards that I started writing more seriously, on reason I think fanfiction is great, it often helps young writers gain the confidence to write their own stories. Realizing the idea could never be published though in its current form, I tried to find a new way to use the characters and the story. Naturally my thoughts went to my favorite game that I used to play with my best friend in grade school.

We used to play complex stories involving cats and dogs. We found humans frankly rather dull, so with all our stuffed animals as the kittens and puppies, we became the adult animals and made up an elaborate alternate world with Catland and Dogland, two nations that vacillated constantly between peace and war. The Cat and Dog war kept being revived, much to the inconvenience of those cats or dogs who had in peacetime moved to the opposite nation for business or other reasons. Most of our stories were set around a parallel time to World War II where cats were taken into internment camps when the Cat and Dog war started again, while other kindly dogs kid their neighbors in the basement. We spent hours in the basement playing versions of this and escaping the dog version of the Gestapo.

It wasn’t a far stretch from there to reworking the story as an earlier period of the Cat and Dog war… in a Victorian Era. However, after rewriting the first couple of chapters, I got distracted with ideas involving humans. As a teenager, I was finding humans more and more interesting and reading more complex literature, and my interest didn’t carry through. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I was sharing older Redwall themed writing with one of my writing partners for fun, that I dug it out and showed her the first couple chapters. She found them hilarious and drew the cutest set of dog and cat art. That got me thinking that perhaps there was a place for the story after all. I rewrote it from scratch to better fit a younger audience and turned it into this current short chapter book.

I have currently live Amazon world wide (UK link), Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. It ought to be up on Kobo and Apple shortly, but hasn’t quite gone through. I had an art glitch on my print proof, so I had to send for a second proof… and it hasn’t arrived, but I expect it any day, and so will post as soon as the print copies are available.

A Busy Christmas, Goals for the New Year, and Nayu’s review

I’ve naturally fallen behind on the blogging again with all the holiday fanfare, but I had a lovely Christmas yesterday.  It’s been great to see both families.  This year Ben’s family had their Christmas celebration on Sunday, which meant we got to spend longer with both families.  While that means it took more days out of my schedule and regular things like writing and blogging, I found I preferred it for getting to spend more time with each family.  We didn’t have to rush anywhere on Christmas itself and could pace ourselves better.

It’s not even quite over, since I still have one sister who couldn’t make it until today, so I get one more day of festivities.  There’s talk of going to the Hobbit, which I haven’t seen and hope to soon, and I wouldn’t mind some shopping while we’re in Portland either.  So I may just take off the whole week, really.

Then I’ll be able to gear up for this next year. At least I have clear goals.  My first and main one is marketing.  I’m going to get serious about learning how. I have several pages of advice and a list of review sites from my editor, and one of my friends has promised to give me lessons for the rest of it.  What I hope to achieve is a whole attitude make-over.  By the end of next year, I want to from being one of those “I hate marketing” people to a “I just love telling people about my book and marketing is easy and fun” people.

Is that possible? I don’t really know… but it’s worth a try, right?  There’s much debate on how much our likes and dislikes are chosen vs just happening.  I have a pretty steep challenge here, since I tend to get anxious in social situations, but in the end, if I can change it, I’ll enjoy myself a whole lot more.  It’s the one part of being an author I don’t enjoy right now.  Even line edits or formatting I can get into once I get going, so it’d definitely be a step in the right direction of my larger goal of being the happiest person I know. (Honestly, life is too short to waste it being miserable, right? And since I can’t make anyone else happy, I might as well work on myself.)

I have several writing focused goals.  The first is to rewrite “Dragon Boy.”  This book is close to my heart and I feel I’m finally ready to do it justice and write the definitive version.  I’ve received for Christmas “The Breakout Novel Workbook” which I plan to use to go over the novel and look for ways to improve it.  I’ve made that a two year goal though, because I want to take my time and because I still want to finish and release “Much Ado About Villains” as well.  That’s my second writing goal.  I’ll also need to earn the money for the art for that… I’d like to get it fully illustrated like book one.  But I think that’ll be doable in the coming year.

Then, I’d like to submit “Revenge of the Voiceless” first to Amazon’s contest, and then to a few other publishers until I find a publisher.  As it’s a full-length adult novel, I feel I need the support of a publisher for that one, and I’m willing to take the time it needs to find the right one.

And, best of all, Nayu’s Reading Corner has my first review of “A Recipe for Disaster” up!  Check it out.

A Recipe for Disaster is released!

Well, it’s all up and finalized!  A Recipe for Disaster is officially out and I have it on a free promotion on amazon for the ebook version through the weekend, so if you have a kindle account, grab it while you can.  Print is also all formatted and out if you like it that way.  I’m really excited to finally be releasing something new. I’m a bit slow on that.  Eventually I’ll get the nook and smashwords versions up, but since I haven’t finished formatting that, I have decided to go 3 months on amazon select before doing that.

A page on this site for it with sample, etc, will be forthcoming, but for now, I’ll just slap up the blurb!  I want to thank my wonderful crew of critiquers on Critique Circle for helping me get this ready, and my awesome editor at Word Vagabond editing, and my very talented cover artist, Leo DeBruyn.

“A Recipe for Disaster” is set in the same world as the Dark Lord Academy series, and is the first of a number of spin-off shorter novels/stories that I hope to write.  And hopefully you’ll find it as amusing as I did writing it, because I sure had a blast this summer, contrary to my fighting with my sequel.  This thing practically wrote itself.

Blurb: Villain apprentice Cal desperately needs cash to take his girlfriend to the Dreaded Ball. Prince Bueford needs out of an arranged marriage. Mullog, Bueford’s manservant, would love to marry the princess and has the perfect solution: Bueford can buy a potion for disaster from Cal to disrupt the betrothal. Then Mullog can rescue the princess, and everyone can live happily ever after.

How could a little disaster go wrong?

Interview: Nayu’s Reading Corner

Today I want to welcome Nayuleska, author of “Nayu’s Reading Corner” one of my favorite review blogs! 

Tell us about your blog, Nayu.  What sort of things do you like to review? Everything! Well, nearly everything. I review predominantly children’s books, from 0 years to Young Adult. I went through a phase of mostly reviewing Young Adult, but I’ve switched back to younger children’s books as they are a little less intense. They still deal with all emotional issues in life, but there’s more happiness and hope.

I also review a few children’s non-fiction books, some paranormal romance, contemporary fiction and fantasy too. Depending on my mood I love school stories, stories of characters having a physical or mental issue which they have to overcome, stories of people discovering they have new powers, family orientated stories (often but not exclusive to dealing with death of a loved one, divorce, unemployment etc). Cute animal stories that make me go aww also feature on my list. Oh, I need to point out I’m prone to crying over books, and enjoy them when this happens.

 How did you end up in the business of book reviewing? It all started when I started reading book blogs. One reviewer – who is now an author too, Kimber An reviewed stories which I found enjoyable. I’d never have thought that I’d like paranormal romance, seeing as I’m not overly fond of romance, but I love the powers and obstacles that the protagonists have to overcome. I got in contact with Kimber An, (whose now suspended blog Enduring Romance I ended up being a reviewer on!) we got chatting. When saying how fortunate she was with all the interesting books she read, she said ‘give it a go’. So I did.

29th April 2009 I started my book review blog. I reviewed books from my own collection, and started requesting books from publishers. It took quite a bit of time and effort to discover who to contact in the publishers – these days the publicity department is more clearly signposted. I’d made requests each month, and very few would be fulfilled. I kept reviewing my own books, and the ones which I received. I loved it. I loved sharing my thoughts and feelings about books with the world. I still love doing that. Slowly my review requests were fulfilled.

Things sort of exploded in January when I held an online launch party for the debut novel of author Keren David – it was the year it snowed a lot, and since she couldn’t get out I wanted to make it fun for her. It was heaps of fun, gaining interest across the web including on Book Brunch (I got a small mention which I can no longer find the link to). It enabled me to network (although I didn’t look at it in that light at the time), forming links with lots of children’s publishers who I still review for today.

I now have the stacks of books I once dreamed of…which caused an avalanche of books the other week, as one bookshelf endured too much strain from being crammed with books!

I have to stress that getting complimentary books from publishers is a privilege. It isn’t a guarantee for a book reviewer, and it shouldn’t be the aim of a book blog. I started off reading my own books and library books – which I’d do more if I were to get zero review copies. Being a book reviewer is a responsibility. The more books I review, the more I prove my reliability in the publishing world.

Sometimes publicists now contact me if there’s a particular book they feel I’d enjoy. Occasionally it’s the authors themselves who contact me directly to review their books. My knowledge of the publishing world has increased, it’s one I wish to remain in. It’s friendly, fun, a little bit of hard work but totally enjoyable. My style of reviews change according to personal circumstances, the way I rate reviews has changed, and my love for books has grown more than I could imagine.

What’s your favorite part about reviewing books? Reading the books! Nothing beats the pleasure of curling up with a good book and being taken on a whirlwind ride in someone else’s life. Fictional or not, magical powers or just plain normal every single protagonist I read about has qualities that I find in myself, sometimes face issues similar to the ones I face. Each and every one of them has something to teach me, and I love sharing my observations with the world.

What other fun things will readers discover on your blog?

On my side menu I always have an image of the book I’m currently reading, along with the genre it’s for. Every now and then I hold competitions, sometimes chocolate (which ties in with the next question), sometimes a book from my bookshelf. Publishers sometimes offer books for competition, so these are always available to UK residents. A lot of my readers are outside the UK, so sometimes I give away my copy so they don’t have to miss out.

Every Monday I have a What Are You Reading Meme which GMR ofSatisfaction for Insatiable Readers review blog puts up for me (once I give her the book details). It lists the book I’ve read the previous week (which begins on a Saturday and ends on a Friday to give her time to post it).

When I have time (which I haven’t had for several months as ‘normal’ reviews come first and life’s been chaotic) I put up a Character Duel meme. In this meme I take the protagonists from the What Are You Reading meme, pair them up with another book character, why they would like each other and why they would clash. At the end I use a random number generator to pick one character from the list and say which anime character they are most similar to. This relates to my new venture of reviewing anime series/episodes.

I’m a huge anime fan, so it makes sense for me to review what I watch. I discovered the anime Spice and Wolf by using this picture for my twitter avatar. I didn’t know who Holo was, and an anonymous commenter let me know which anime it was from. I watched it and loved it! I use anime pictures a lot in my blog, especially for my Nayu’s News post which is where I chat about what’s been going on in my life. There are some pictures I use for specific occasions. This one is for when I’m having to rest up (I have permanent health issues), although sometimes I use these two when I’m reflecting about what I can do/what I will do. I like using these when I’m chatting about writing, this one when I’m discussing reading, and I try to

always use a fun pic summing up how I feel at the end of the Nayu’s Newspost like this one, or sometimes I find a reason to put in cute ones like this one.

Oh, I nearly forgot a big feature in my reviews: as well as the publishing information, I include a ‘themes’ section, which includes themes that appear in the book, with details on the content (violence, romance, how many tissues are needed because the book made me cry  etc) as the last items.

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?  Most chocolate (so long as it’s not got alcohol in) I really enjoy Hotel Chocolat’s eton mess chocolates.

As you are also a writer, tell us about your own work!  What are you writing?
*laughs* I write a range of children’s book – not as wide as the ones I review. I’m currently working on a fairy series for 7 year olds with an unusual concept of what magic is. I’ve nearly finished editing the first book, which will then head to a couple of people who can tell me how to make it shine.

I’ve got a sci-fi adventure series with a Muslim girl as the protagonist which explores themes of human trafficking, fanatical groups (which aren’t what you expect), strange beings, families trying to kill each other for real and lots of other themes. I’ll be diving into that while I’m waiting to hear back from my beta readers on the fairy story.

I have other wips which are purely light hearted involving royalty, family ties, supernatural powers and magic, magical creatures, love, laughter – I’m not spilling details as like a lot of writers I’m paranoid 🙂 Some are waiting to be finished, others need a complete overhaul because my writing style has changed and I’ve learned a lot over the past few years.

Thank you for dropping by and telling us all about your blog! Thank you for having me – it’s been fun chatting about my blog, my reading, and my writing!

Summer Teen Reading Party, the Karmapa, and a Villainous Sale

The Month of May I’ve joined the Summer Teen Reading Party!  Get your kindles and nooks loaded up with a bunch of brand new YA and MG novels to get ready for summer.  I know a few of these authors personally, and I’m super excited to meet the others!  You can view the whole event here or check out a list of all the authors involved.  There’s prizes, book giveaways, sales for books for $1.99 and $0.99, and loads of great interviews and excerpts to enjoy.  I’ll be joining the fun and tweeting about the event all month as well.

On my own blog I’m interviewing Penny Estelle on May 5th.  Interviewing Barbara Ehrentreu on May 17th.  Then I have a guest post from Marva Dasef on May 20th, and a guest post from Kate Fuentes on May 28th!  I’ll also be giving away a copy of one of my books on each of those days on their blogs where I’m featured in return.  I’ll post those links on the day each person is hosted as well, but check out the full schedule for a bunch of giveaways and prizes.

This last week I was sick, which is why I failed to blog last Monday, but I made up for it by reading a great deal.  Among a lot of reading old favorites (Earthsea books and The Enchanted Forest Chronicles) I also ready a fascinating non-fiction book “The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet’s 17th Karmapa” by Mick Brown.  Now, prior to reading this, I had never heard of the Karmapa, a religious figure similar to the Dali Lama who escaped with him originally when he fled Tibet.  This Karmapa though was the next one, a child identified in Tibet who grew up under Chinese supervision until at the age of 14 he also fled the country.

I picked up this book with several from the library about Tibet for research on my new project, a fantasy novel that steals elements from Chinese and Tibetan history.  It however, reads more like a memoir than a history.  About half the chapters cover the 17th Karmapa’s childhood, identification, troubles  in China, and eventual escape.  Every other chapter was about church politics between the students of the 16th Karmapa who disagreed over if the right boy had been chosen.  I thought that would be boring, but found myself fascinated instead… and now inclined to write a different book about church politics… it’s been very helpful for another project I have with a priest character of a fantasy religion.

The one caveat is the book is written by a western follower of Tibetan Buddhism, so while he’s fair and balanced in talking about the politics between different monks, he has a few places he gets rather overly sentimental about both the Dali Lama and the Karmapa.  However, the memoir tone of the book made this feel not as out of place as it might be in a history book and the tone generally worked for making it an easy and enjoyable read.

Finally, for the month of May, “A School for Villains” is on sale for $1.99 at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  Amazon should price match in about a week.

Meet My Illustrator — Leo DeBruyn

My illustrator, Leo DeBruyn has decided to formally start offering illustration and cover design services for sale.  You can take a look at his website here.  As well as showing off some of the art he’s done for me, I’ve interviewed him today.  I have to say, I’ve been thrilled with his art for “A School for Villains” and I’m saving up so he can illustrate book 2 for me as well.

What’s the best part of what you do?

My favorite part of the illustration process is probably the early composition stage, where I pick out the colors and shapes, define the negative space, and adjust the framing of the image. If I can make it exciting and interesting at that point, I know that the final image will be good. Later, changes will be more costly, but at the start I can try all sorts of different things. A close runner up is when I’m adding the details at the end. At that point, I already like the image and I’m just making it better. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I will keep tweaking until I am satisfied.

What’s your favorite style of illustration? Which mediums do you prefer?

I like variety, but generally gravitate toward colorful images that are believable but not ultra-realistic. I want them to have charm and be visually interesting.

Overall, I prefer digital illustration because of the freedom that it gives me and the time it saves. These days, everything ends up digital, so it saves a few steps if you start out that way. The power of layers lets me experiment and easily mask things off– saving a ton of time. And of course, undo works better than any eraser yet invented.

When I am not working digitally, my favorite medium is crayons on paper. I like the brightness of the colors, and the versatility. You can sharpen them down to a fine point or put them on their side and fill in a space. And they are cheap, so you can have buckets of them and just play around. If you apply them in layers, you can get a very smooth and brilliant layer of wax that has a wonderful sense of depth and radiance to it. And you can also mix them with wax-based colored pencils if you need more detail. Plus, it’s kind of a kick to see people’s reaction when you take materials most people associate with children and do something that impresses them.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

As a kid, I preferred animals. In art school, I went to the zoo a lot, and some of my favorite drawings were of penguins and bears, using a Japanese brush that allowed me to capture the entire animal with a couple of brush strokes. Since animals move around a lot, it was a great way to capture them quickly before they changed poses. I also like drawing people and interesting architecture, especially castles and spacecraft. Dragons and armor are always fun, too.

Who are some illustrators you admire or have inspired your work?

I love the work of many illustrators. Some of them have influenced how I draw, others just inspire me and fire up my imagination. My mother is an illustrator and definitely had a large impact on my style. Other illustrators that I enjoy include Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Leo and Diane Dillon, Quentin Blake, James Marshall, and William Steig. There are so many more, but I’m not going to turn this into an epic list.

For your personal work, where do you find inspiration?

Stories inspire me. That’s really what illustration is all about. A story comes to life in an illustration. I like to read a lot, and I have even done illustrations of my own life story in various diaries and journals over the years.

The human form also inspires me. What is amazing about it is that human beings love images of people, but they are really hard to get right because we have an innate understanding of the human form that makes us notice even tiny details that are wrong. It also subtly informs our idea of beauty and ugliness in everything, even inanimate objects. I have found the human body to be both inspiring and challenging. Drawing it makes me into a better artist every time, even if my next piece of work has no people in it.

Elaborate on your education, experience and skills.

I grew up drawing and painting in a very creative home. My mother is an artist and my siblings and I spent a lot of time creating art with her as children. When I grew up, I went to art school and studied computer animation. That is what really got me going with digital illustration. But I also spent a fair amount of time working with traditional media. Some other mediums that I enjoy are acrylic paint, wood and linoleum block prints, paper cutting and folding, and sculpting in clay, wire, and paper.

While I have produced a lot of art over the years, I haven’t done a lot of commercial illustration because I’ve been so busy designing video games for the last decade. I am trying to focus more on my art now because I really enjoy it and want to live a more balanced creative life.

For digital art, what programs do you use?

I use Photoshop, GIMP, Inkscape, Flash, Blender… it all depends on what I’m making and where I happen to be at the moment. I work in both vector and raster images, depending on the style and needs of the project.

What services do you offer and what are your rates? What are looking for in a project?

Currently I’m offering cover creation services. This can range from a simple layout and graphic design for your e-book cover using stock photos, to a full blown print-resolution cover with a custom illustration. Since I’m relatively new to this, and I’d like to work with up and coming authors, I am trying to keep my rates reasonable. All of my work is entirely custom (I don’t use templates), so your price will depend on what your needs are.

For example, an e-book cover with your name and title on it in a nice-looking font and color scheme, with a photo image, might be around $50, plus whatever the photo costs to license. If you have your own photo, or want me to find you a free royalty-free image, then there’d be no extra charge for the picture.

On the other end of the spectrum, a print-resolution cover with all the same layout and typography, as well as a highly detailed custom digital illustration containing an iconic scene or image from your book may cost you $400, depending on how detailed of an image you want. I can also do it in a different medium if you prefer. Really like woodblock prints? How about a photo of an origami bird floating on the water? Just let me know what you’re thinking and I’ll give you a quote.

I’d also like to point out that while I enjoy being creative, my ultimate goal with illustration is to please my client. I don’t mind doing an image in a particular style that you really like. If there’s another image out there that you like the look of and you want something similar, send a link to me and I’ll see what I can do.

Tell us about your non-illustration projects. What else do you enjoy doing?

I’m a game designer, so I spend a lot of time making video games. Some of this is basically programming, but sometimes it involves creating art. Just in the last few weeks I started playing around with something called

NeoTextureEdit to make procedural images of wood and stone surfaces for a game. It’s almost a game in and of itself tweaking knobs and typing numbers to create art.

I also enjoy writing. I’m hoping to get some of my own stories published soon.

***

 

The Evil Dreaded Author attempts a Social Networking Takeover

“Report Minion!” the Dreaded Evil Author roared. “Where is that Report Minion?”

Minions scattered here and there, avoiding claws. Someone found the Report Minion hiding behind a pile of books and shoved him forward.

“Y-yes, Your Evilness.” The Report Minion cringed a salute.

“Where are my sales?” the Dreaded One growled.

“You have… instant updates on your computer, Evilness…” the Report Minion mumbled, feigning a misunderstanding of the question.

“Why is my book not selling?” The Dreaded One threw a book at the Report Minion, forcing him to hastily sidestep. “Report on the Social Networking Takeover, now!”

“Um… well… er…” The Report Minion blushed, vowing to hang the minions who’d appointed him to this position upside down in a vat of slime if he made it out alive today. “We have lots of people who have circled us on Google Plus.”

“Why does that always make them sound like a pack of vultures?” The Dreaded One growled. “Well, then? Why are they not buying? They sound hungry enough.”

“They, er… well, we have lots of authors in our writing circle who post ads about their books, a circle of Occupy Wall street manifestos and Ron Paul ads—”

“Wait! Aren’t those the opposite end of the political spectrum? And sales! Why does this not translate into sales?!”

The Report Minion shrugged. “We’re… building rapport, Your Evilness. The people in our circles all are very creative and supportive, at least.”

“And by support you mean…” The Dreaded One raised an eyebrow.

“They’re more than happy to plus one Lolcats, rainbows, and pictures of sunsets on beaches.” The Report Minion tried an encouraging smile.

“Cats are appropriately evil! And I do not post rainbows.”

“Of course not, Your Evilness.”

“Well, only the really exceptional rainbows,” the Dreaded One muttered. Everyone fell silent, not wanting to tackle that one, until some faint screaming from a locked up character in the distant vaults of the Evil Author’s castle echoed through the room. “Oh, shut up. I’ll get to you after I get some sales!” the Dreaded One roared. “Next!” She pointed at the Report Minion.

“On Twitter, no one was noticing us until you… um… we may have responded to someone’s inspirational quote.”

“I was having a bad day,” snarled the Dreaded One. “Even evil people need cheering up.”

“Well, um, now our twitter feed is full of cheerful inspirations, but um, no customers, really. But Preacher4theLord would like to suggests ‘God brings U everything, PRAY always’ and Sister_Rosemary reminds you ‘Jesus loves you, UR special.’”

“Arrrg!” The Evil Dreaded One set her hair on fire, and threw her cup of now cold coffee at the Report Minion, who hastily threw himself on the floor. “Spam them with book ads! Spam them I say!” roared the Dreaded One. “One every five seconds!”

“Is revenge really the best marketing strategy?” the Computer Tech Minion interrupted, peeking around the side of the laptop.  He was promptly forced to duck back behind it for cover. “Your Dreadedness, be reasonable. We’re only trying to help.”

Meanwhile, the Report Minion scrambled to his feet. One of the others offered him a towel to wipe coffee off his breastplate.

“Whatever. What next?” snarled the Dreaded One, jabbing a claw at the recovering Report Minion.

“Well, when we stormed Facebook…” the Report Minion blushed, and shoved the towel behind his back. “We were besieged by your evil brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins.”

The Dreaded One dropped her head into her hands and groaned.

“Oh, except for that boy from third grade who used to pretend to die every time you saw him in the hall. He friended us as well. Shall we accept?”

The Dreaded One waved a hand. “Yes, yes, the better to extract our revenge.”

“Hey, wasn’t that because you punched him in the head on the playground in second grade?” asked one of the minion lurking behind the vat of slime.

“He deserved it! Get on with it.” The Dreaded One only looked up to give the minions a dull glare.

“Well, when you joined a tagging network on kindleboards… you rather… drained the treasury buying other people’s books as you tagged them, not to mention clogging up your hard drive with other free kindle offerings…”

“They looked interesting,” the Dreaded One snarled.

“And with all due respect, Your Evilness, that discussion on Critique Circle about how many words can be found using only the top line of the typewriter… well, while your entries of eep, yippy, and weyr were quite brilliant… they didn’t exactly bring in the sales.”

“You know, forget this!” The Dreaded Author jumped to her feet. “I spend hours reading useless junk online, and what do I get for it, nothing? When’s the last time I tortured a character? Causes mayhem and destruction on countries or blasted innocents with a reign of terror?” she picked up the laptop and threw it at the group of minions, who yelped in surprise.

“Hey!” The Computer Tech Minions screeched. “Careful of the internet!”

“It’s far time I went and had some fun. That was the whole point of this. Evil fun!” The Evil Author swirled her cape and marched forward. The minions scattered

“B-but what about the budget shortfalls?” the Report Minion muttered from under the desk.

“Go form a super-committee to solve it,” snarled the Dreaded One, and marched off towards the faint cries of distant characters.