So, the reason this edition of The Awkward Truth About Being A Writer is called “Getting Personal” is because I’m going to confront some of the stuff that I see getting talked about a lot. Only, I’m only going to give MY opinion and then mention the general consensus or other author’s experiences briefly.
Because I only know, for sure, what’s going on in my world. Everyone else can speak for themselves.
Issue #1 – Covers
Speaking for myself, I choose the cover image. At my publishing house (Encompass/CHBB) we get to choose one image from BigStock to use as a cover, then we hand it over to one of our amazing graphic designers and let them loose on it. I have NO more input, because I choose not to interfere with things I know nothing about. I get to send them a brief outline of what I’m interested in, mentioning specifics if I have any. But, otherwise, I have no idea what my cover is going to look like. And, sure, I could send it back if it’s not exactly what I’m expecting, but why? I mean, our cover designers are there to give us something unique. Yes, we use stock images, but we don’t have a pattern and you will never see a cover model that is used a billion times (and, if you do, bets are that we got him first 😉 )
So, unique, one off covers that are totally different from the norm. What’s not to love? Plus, we get a little or a lot of input depending on what we ask of the designer and we get something that stands out from the crowd. I’ve yet to see an ugly cover in the entire house.
Issue #2 – Publishing Date
Now, this is one I see a lot. I see readers complaining that it’s taking too long for a series book to be released or for a book that was announced as having been signed or getting a cover to hit the shelves. I also see a lot of authors saying “don’t look at me – it’s all my publisher’s fault”. Me? Not true.
The team at Encompass/CHBB are really great for accommodating me, whenever I have a specific date in mind. Normally, this is basically just a month. Then I look at a file we have, with all the dates that have already been booked for the year, and see where I can fit. I don’t like to take the shine from others or lose the shine for my books because of others, so I always try to find a date that is about 4-5 days, more if I can, away from another Encompass release. I definitely don’t want two of us battling out for a spot in Amazon’s rankings, when we’re in the same genre. That’s not fair, because we both deserve our time to shine.
So, I consider my date carefully, in relation to books in the imprint, but other than that, I’m happy to go with the flow. I’ve said countless times “just fit me in where it works for you”. Only with my next release – Deal With the Devil – did I ask for a specific month : October. For obvious reasons. But, my birthday is November the 1st, so I really didn’t want to be cramming in major promo the week of my birthday, so I nixed the typical Halloween slot, including that whole week. That was my choice and I’m happy with that. Plus, it means that the word will be out and, with any luck, my steamy Angel/Demon story will keep people company on Halloween, rather than having them online grabbing my book when they should be out Trick or Treating. Because…you know…sweeties!
Issue #3 – Series Dates
Sort of related, I’m still talking about release dates. However, I have a specific idea for how I handle release dates for series books…
I don’t sweat it.
For me, I won’t submit a book in a series, until at least the next book is already completed. With the Decadent series, I’d only ever intended there to be two books – Decadent and The Other Side. Right Kind of Wrong came along, because one of my beta readers needed to see Tam vindicated. Then, as I wrote Tam’s story, I realised that Giovanni wasn’t a villain either, so he needed his story.
BUT, I didn’t rush through writing Tam’s story, just because books 1-2 had been released within a decent time frame of each other. I wanted the book to be right and as it should be. That, unsurprisingly, took a heck of a lot of work and a lot of back and forth with my beta readers. When it was ready, it took me nearly 3 months to even think of how Giovanni’s story might go.
Now, months after Giovanni’s story was published, I have more stories I want to tell. I’m currently writing a Reunion novel, that will feature all the characters from the series, to tie up all those little side arc’s. But, I’m not rushing that either, because I know it’s going to take a lot of work to get it right and I won’t publish something mediocre.
In the case of the Cacodemon series, of which Deal With the Devil is book 1, I’m not finished book 3 yet. But, as per my guidelines, book 2 is completed and edited. Book 3 will be finished when it’s ready. Like a good batch of cupcakes, some of the special ones need a little longer and they’ll tell you when they’re ready.
Issue #4 – Begging for More!
Now, this is one that I’m still battling with. Yes, I gave in to my beta reader and wrote Tam’s story. But, I did that because it felt right, not because it was asked of me.
I’ve been asked to write a follow up to The Cellist, as well as A Royal Craving. I’ve been thinking about the first, but don’t have a suitable story, so that won’t be happening unless inspiration strikes. But the latter WILL happen, only because – again – there were stories that needed to be told. Like Clef Notes, which followed the minor characters of The Cellist, A Royal Promise will tell a linked series of short stories. At the moment, it’s waaay over word count, so I need to decided if one story will be released individually, for free, put on my website/Wattpad for free, or if I’m going to just hack the word count to pieces, until I can fit them all in. It’s a struggle, but I know that these stories NEED to be told. Not because anyone demanded them of me, but because I feel they need it.
So, will I always bow to pressure to write more stories for characters? Maybe. It depends if the juices are flowing. If not, I’ll write a short note in a document, give it a temporary name that tells me what it’s for and wait. Sometimes, percolation works. My current WIP “By Appointment Only” was originally a novel, but is now a series. It “percolated” for over a year, before it finally made sense to my brain. So, the short answer is – you never know.
But, any story I do write will come from my heart, not a need to milk a series or novel for all it’s worth. I’d like to eventually write a follow-up (even if it’s a short) for Following Orders and The Cellist (as mentioned above), but those are vague, floaty things. Little clouds of suggestion that don’t warrant a note of reminder, yet. Maybe one day. Maybe never. Only time will tell.
So, if you’ve been waiting impatiently for a book of mine or if you didn’t like a cover; if you’re hoping for a sequel or follow-up to a story or wondering what the heck I’m thinking with my covers or promotional posters – It’s my fault. And I don’t apologise. This is who I am, this is how I work and, in the long run, it’s what keeps my brain ticking over with plans, ideas and new stories. So don’t be mad at me, please.
I’m human, like anyone else. If I get the cover image wrong, so what? I liked it and chose it for a reason. Any problem with it is mine entirely. Don’t blame the cover designer. Is there an issue with the editing? Fine, I own up – I suck at commas, apostrophes and not always remembering that you – the reader – can’t read my mind. Again – all my fault. I have an amazing editor, but she can only work with what I give her and sometimes I don’t agree with her suggestions, sometimes I don’t question them at all. It’s swings and round abouts, like all of life.
So, remember, if there’s ever an issue with my books, it’s all my fault. And that’s okay. Nobody is perfect.