How To Write Romance

Hades & Persephone: To the Underworld

The #1 most competitive category on Amazon Kindle is Contemporary Romance. Authors who write romance are bad-ass! Despite which genre your stories belong to, creating believable erotic scenes should be part of any writer’s ammo. Who are the romance writers? Read what three successful authors have to say about their craft and learn.

Joanne Fisher, Sevannah Storm, and Lynda Rees answered my in-depth interview questions about this bestselling genre.

Joanne FisherSevannah StormLynda Rees
1. Tell us about you. Who are you?
My name is Joanne Fisher and I am Canadian-Italian-American. I’ve been published now for just over 3 years and I have published a total of 8 books with genres ranging from steamy romance, historical fiction, murder mystery and travel guide.Call me Sev. I’m a Christian writing romance with a bit of Song of Solomon thrown in.

I love kick-butt strong, independent women who fall for alpha males.

I’m creative; studied art for seven years, lectured graphic design…that sort of thing.

For me, writing is a form of creativity release. I have a pug underfoot, two teenagers and a supportive husband.
I’m a multi-award winning author, part-Cherokee, a coal-miner’s daughter born in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. After a corporate career in marketing and global transportation, I followed my dream to become published in fiction. I’m wife to my personal story hero, mother of two, grandmother of three human children, one feline child, four equestrian babes and a donkey.
2. Tell us your latest news as a writer. What are you working on?
At this moment, I’m working on my second historical fiction titled “Magnolia Blossom” which is a forbidden love story that takes place during the American Civil War.I have dates from my publisher for The Huntress and Xiaxan Fox. It makes it feel more real.

Now, I’m writing a genderswap witcher in outer space.

Across endless darkness, Mick kills or collects creatures for credits. Mutated in one of those attempts, she may be stronger, faster but loneliness eats at her soul. Tasked to confirm the existence of a dragon-like species, she joins forces with an old friend who thought her a boy. Can she survive what he has planned for her, the origin of the death threats and the revelation that her not-dead mother has assassins out to kidnap her? (M)
In December, The Thinking Tree published, sequal to my middle-grade children’s book, Freckle Face & Blondie.

Also in December, The Bourbon Tree, Book 10 of The Bloodline Series, a mystery series set in Kentucky horse country was launched in English, German, French, Italian and will come out in Spanish in February.Kentucky is famous for fast horses, beautiful women and amazing bourbon. Or is that fast women and beautiful horses?

Book 9 of The Bloodline Series, Real Money, detailing Chloe’s hazardous career as a real estate agent, was published in August in English and in audiobook in October. It came out in French, German, Italian in December, and is pubishing in February in Spanish.
3. Why do you write romance?
Yes, romance is my favorite genre to write.I write more than romance. Every story must touch on the basics; adventure, intrigue, action. But such a story without romance means it's missing that special something.

Also, I feel love conquers all. It's that one emotion we have yet to fully udnderstand and it's something everyone searches for... hence The One, Soulmate, Mr Right.

But, on a personal level, that moment when the MMC snatches my breath, makes me swoon... that's the feeling I chase when I write.
That’s tough, like asking why I breath. It’s part of me. If I failed to put my characters’ lives in writing, they’d never let me sleep. As it is, insistently invade my resting brain as I try to drift off. You could say, I write scenes in my head, before they end up in manuscripts.
4. Do you write other genres as well?
Yes. I write historical fiction and murder mystery as well.Not initially. My first book written and snatched up by a publisher was a sci-fi romance so it’s my go-to genre.

Since then I wrote a fantasy romance, paranormal romance and then, a historical fantasy. It was the hardest due to the research.
I mostly write cozy romantic mysteries, but have an award-winning historical conspiracy theory romance Gold Lust Conspiracy. My two middle-grade children’s mysteries published are co-authored with my granddaughter, Harley Nelson. Freckle Face & Blondie and The Thinking Tree, Book 2 Freckle Face & Blondie Series were published in January and December 2019.
5. Why is romance such a popular genre?
Because in today’s culture, chivalry and romance are dying. Romance books and movies are keeping the romance fire alive. With all the different types of romance genres, it is alive and doing very well.Everyone wants to feel loved, to relive moments of joy in our lives and share in others even if it’s fictional.I’m a fan as well as author of the genre. I love it because it takes me into other worlds and gives me experiences I’d never have otherwise.
6. Name one thing you love about romance.
Romance takes you to a world where a woman is not only loved but respected and cherished. The meet-cutes, the first kiss and the I-love-you.Reading romance provides a few tears, some laughs or suspense, and leaves me with a feel-good vacation experience without having to leave home, though I can take it with me anywhere.
7. What are the biggest misconceptions about the romantic/erotic genre?
The major misconception is that it is compared to porn but I assure you it’s far from that. Erotica sparks sensual sensations in a woman and develops it in a way that the reader will feel what the protagonist is feeling. The unintended consequences of this is an awakening of the reader’s sensuality and this is definitely a good thing.Romance is for bored housewives, for women with low esteem and without love in their lives.

A proper romance is a story with a little sex in it. Why is reading it different from watching it? The Titanic, The Kissing Booth, Crazy Stupid Love, The Notebook, to name a few.
I don’t write or normally read erotic romance, so am not be the best to comment. My opinion is erotic literature is misconstrued as trashy or unholy by many. Of course, it’s about sex, which is a touchy subject for some, though it’s what keeps this world going round.

That misconception could be true of romance in general. A man, in an elevator full of writers at an RWA convention, said he’d been having a lovely time in a hotel filled with dirty women. We laughted, but it was a clear example of what those who have never read romance may still believe.

Erotic romance is written with the main focus on sex. Other genres of romance may include sex, but romance is the primal focus. Romance can have several heat levels from zero to five. My books aren’t erotic, though they have sexual scenes in them, depending on the story’s need, ranging from level three to five. This of course, doesn’t include my children’s books.
8. Name the best subgenres. Which fascinates you?
I enjoy a good drama or political suspense that goes along with a murder mystery or a romance.Historical, Contemporary, Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal…because vampires and werewolves are sexy.

It’s not the blood or animal thing, it’s the unapologetic masculinity and strength they exude.
I love and write mystery and suspence. I adore romantic comedy, though it’s difficult for me to put to pen. I enjoy thrillers and U. S. historical and western romance. I’m a history buff and have woven Kentucky history into The Bloodline Series (Books 1-10), God Father’s Day and Madam Mom. My state has an intriquing past of settlers and a little-known history of mobsters, gambling and sin. Gold Lust Conspiracy spawned from my fascination with Alaska’s frontier days.
9. Do you think that every writer should try writing a romantic story at least once? Why: yes/no?
Of course! If not anything, it will awaken the writer’s sensuality along with the thrill romance gives you.No. A writer should stick to what they’re comfortable with, but for an added element of realism, there should be a little romance.Write what drives you, whatever is inside that needs to come out. Experimenting with genres may help you find your voice, but consistency and doing it every day makes you better. A writer must write, and write and write. When the voice finally sets in, you recognize it.
10. Who do you write to? To yourself, to the public? For fame or money?
I write for my fans. Obviously, I’d like to write for money but right now, it’s a hobby for me although, who knows, one day I may write that best seller that will make me famous. I am content to satisfy my readers right now.For myself. I tell the story circling my mind. Once it’s out, I’m at peace. If I could earn a little to do it full-time, then I’d be grateful. Making a living doing something you’re passionate about is the ultimate dream.I write what stirs my soul and hope it helps someone else, if only go give them an enjoyable experience. I love my characters. They’re real, living beings dear to my heart. I hope they’re unforgettable to readers.

I certainly don’t write for fame and money, though that would be nice. Most of my life, a corporate career made money and paid the bills. I’d love my books to be famous, though I don’t need that personally. Fans have written me the most incredible tributes, so I’m a success without my face on television or being a household name.
Joanne FisherSevannah StormLynda Rees
11. How do you find the motivation to write?
I have ideas for at least a dozen books. It’s quite funny how you write your first book (which took me ten years to write) and then the ideas come pouring out. Once I create a word document, with a title and a temporary cover, I’m committed to finishing it. I don’t struggle with punching out word count. The saggy middle is the hardest and I find, to persevere through that, keep to a daily word count.I am and always have been, self-motivated. Some authors are introverted and need the alone time. Though I’m an extrovert, I thrive on writing. At the computer, the room is filled with characters waiting their turn to speak. Jessie, Logan, Jason, Becky, Tisha, Sam, Lemon Sage, Wyatt, Levi, Riley, Corrie, Justin, Calvin, Rose, Chloe, Leo, Jaiden, Sam, Shae, Reggie, Dory, Chance, Zoe and Dex—they’re my motivation. I can’t shut them up.
12. How do you beat the writer's block?
Thank goodness, I haven’t had to deal with writer’s block yet.I push through. It’s easier to edit something written than a blank page.I’ve never experienced it. If I did, I’d take a walk in the woods, dance with my husband, have a cocktail and chat about the day with him or a good friend, play with my grandkids, feed the horses and donkey or go swimming or fishing.
13. What advice would you give to a writer who wants to create believable romantic/erotic scenes?
I would advise to read other writer’s work. This will allow you to be guided by their style and at the same time create your own style.Romantic: Be authentic and natural, place yourself in their shoes. How would YOU react in that moment?

Erotic: Be realistic. The elbow will poke him in the ribs. He will squash you with his weight and you will sweat. It's not pretty, don't make it a ballet dance choreographed to perfection.
-
14. An action thriller needs an erotic scene. Any tips?
Again, I would read a few action thrillers that do have that type of scene in it and create your own style.It depends on the mood and pace at that moment. If it’s after the detective finds the first body, then it’s hard, fast and intense. If his partner’s killed, then in grief, it’s long and slow. If he cries afterward, even better.-
15. How much of your books are based on your experiences in life?
A few of my books are inspired by certain moments in my life but then the characters take on their own journeys.
There are a few that are completely made up or based on someone else’s experience but again, I try to give my characters their own personalities.
The intimate scenes; I had my husband describe what he felt in the moment. The fight scenes; I do Krav Maga for fun and some of those techniques slip into my novels.I write fiction. Characters, places and events derive from my imagination. A splattering of actual events or similarity to historical happenings sometimes play out the way I want them to, instead of how they might occurred. Characters are a mixture—partly me, a spash of folks I’ve met and a measure my fabrication. We all draw on life experiences in order to be who we are.
16. Which format you enjoy reading: e-book/audiobook or print? Why?
I enjoy e-books because they can be carried anywhere where paperbacks can’t go like the gym for example.E-book. Instant gratification. No leaving the house to get my next fix.Some of my books came out in audiobook the past year, and the rest will launch this year in audio; so I’ve experimented in the medium and am learning I like it. It’s great when you’re too busy to read, working, cooking, working out, walking, running, driving or doing housework. People who don’t have time to read, now have access to books. I prefer print, but am also hooked on reading ebooks on my iPad.
17. Describe an excellent romance book cover. Why do you like it?
I like to see a very sexy couple if the book is an erotica or a couple in a romantic position like a kiss or a hug for clean romances. These covers already give the potential reader a taste of they are about to embark on. See, for example, my book “Her Spanish Doll” or “Christmas in Venice”.I grew up with the damsel clasped in a bare-chested man’s arms. Those are classic. For me, I like covers in the middle of an action scene or layered like the epic Tarzan covers. It’s not just the main character. There are bats and a city skyline and a forest with wolves all on one cover.It depends on the genre, but the cover should first of all have stopping power. Secondly, it should be compelling, signify the genre and give a hint what the story is about.
18. Who makes your book covers?
She’s my best friend and we used to work together. When she was let go she ventured in starting her own business and she handles my website, all marketing items and my book covers.
Robin McDonald - MacRed Designs - https://www.robin-mcdonald.com/
I do, for now. I have three novels launching this year. I don’t know who the publishers use.-
19. Describe your ideal reader.
Anyone who has some romance in their hearts or who loves an “on the edge of your seat” type suspense story.Someone passionate, supportive…a squealer. “OMW, I can’t believe she said that…he did that!”He or she reads and is touched in some way by every book I write, and can’t wait for the next one to come out. They post a review at Amazon, Goodreads and/or BookBub; and contact me directly so we can build a personal relationship. I love chatting with readers.
20. What inspired you to write your latest book?
Not who but what, Venice! I lived in Italy for 18 years and I’ve visited a few times while there. Then in 2018, my husband and I visited Italy. It is one of those cities that are unforgettable and for me, it inspired the story that I wrote. “Christmas in Venice”. There are also authentic Venetian recipes at the back of both the e-book and the paperback. I love to cook and I will definitely be trying the most difficult recipies. You should too!I’ve read all of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels and played The Witcher. But I didn’t want to mimic the concept and since sci-fi is my go-to, then that’s what I went with.Two things have driven my need to write Hart’s Girls. I live near the I75 corridor, heavily used by traffickers of all sorts. As a mother and grandmother, child abduction is a concern gotten worse now, with internet access. The Tri-State Area is #5 in top areas experiencing human trafficking. I took a writer’s class last year on the subject, and it has eaten at me ever since wanting to come out.

Secondly, my character, FBI Special Agent Reggie Casse, needs a love interest according to fans. It’s difficult with her career. I want Reggie and U. S. Marshal Shae Montgomery to help get the word out. Child abduction and human trafficking occurs under our noses in all neighborhoods, no matter what income level or social class. Our children are vulnerable.
Joanne FisherSevannah StormLynda Rees
21. How do you market your books?
I use social media a lot and I create my own memes. I use the different seasons to send different messages to my readers. I also have a very active website where you can view the book trailer for each one of my books, along with listening to the audio clip, you can read the teaser and you can buy it if you like what you see, hear and read. I also have a blog on Goodreads and I send out monthly newsletters with a surprise in each one.I thought it was via social media so I built those up. Now I know it’s through advertisements. At this point, I haven’t gone down this path. I’ll start closer to my first launch date.I’m an active member of professional organizations sharing among authors and readers and active on social media. I do news releases in papers; ads on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads and occasionally BookBub. I blog on my website and share news from there about my work, as well as other authors, and publish a monthly newsletter to VIP’s. If anyone is interested in FREEBIES and PERKS of a VIP, they can sign up at this link:
http://eepurl.com/cTtS09
22. Who is your favorite writer? Why is he/she so good?
I love Wilbur Smith. His way of describing Africa is non comparable to any other writer that I’ve read. Oh! This is a tough one. Christine Feehan; the way she writes is inspirational.

Terry Pratchett; no matter how many times you read the same book, something new is revealed.

David Gemmell; the epic scale of his stories.
I love many authors. It’s difficult to say. If I can only pick one, I’d have to pick Janet Evanovich. She’s responsible for my embarrassment, laughing out loud on several air flights. I love her comedic mind. Also, I’d list Debbie MacComber, Andrea Rhodes, Thayne Rae, Robyn Carr, Jennifer Crusie and many more.
23. Links to your books and social media, please!
Website: https://joannesbooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReadJoannesBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoannesBooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joannes_books_2018/?hl=en
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16797940.Joanne_Fisher?from_search=true
Email: joannes_books@outlook.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sevannah_storm
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/Sevannah_Storm (sample pages only)
Website: https://sevannahstorm.wixsite.com/website (Please subscribe to my non-spamming newsletter)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sevannah.storm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sevannah.storm/ (So new on this, could use some support)
Tapas: https://tapas.io/sevannah_storm (sample pages only)
Tumblr: https://sevannahstorm.tumblr.com (never on here, still trying to figure it out)
Pinterest: https://za.pinterest.com/sevannahstorm/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/95639379-sevannah-storm
http://eepurl.com/cTtS09 Become a VIP, get FREE reads, gifts and news.
http://www.lyndareesauthor.com Website
https://amazon.com/author/lyndarees Amazon
https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lynda-rees Bookbub
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17187400.Lynda_Rees Goodreads
http://eepurl.com/cTtS09 Become a VIP, get FREE gifts and latest news
https://twitter.com/LyndaReesauthor Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/lynda.rees.author/ Facebook
https://www.pinterest.com/lyndareesauthor/pins/ Pinterest
Beaches, sand, shells, lots of sunshine and books! Life is grand! Don’t you agree?
JoannesBooks.com or Amazon.com


#amreading #lovetoread #bookworm #books #murdermystery #romancestory #lovestory #JoannesBooks
No book links yet, launches will be throughout 2020.

See: https://sevannahstorm.wixsite.com/website
Love is a dangerous mystery. Enjoy the ride!- Lynda Rees

A Bundle Deal on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JD5CSPL?ref_=dbs_r_series&storeType=ebooks


My latest publication:
https://lyndareesauthor.com/the-bourbon-trail/

 

About Rebecka Jäger:

Rebecka Jäger is a published author, blogger, and book cover designer. She lives in Finland and writes spy thrillers. She also co-authors with a U.S. – based novelist. The setting of Rebecka’s books ranges from supernatural to historical.
A group for writers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569574570248527/

Elements of Website Design For Authors

Web site design

The matter of website design; it all depends where you’re at. If you just started publishing short stories, a blog would be perfect for you and easy to create. Maybe you have ten best sellers out (congrats, you lucky bastard!). That means your author website must house different sales channels.

This article is only a superficial scratch on the fascinating theme of web page design, but I wrote it to guide you onto the path. Remember that you can always add features and scale your business.

Look At Your Competitors

As with book covers, a bit of industrial espionage pays. Check out your competition and write down the observations.

  • Visual content. What’s to like? Images, the free white space which lets the central elements rock? 
  • Commercial content and plugins: buying her book was super easy! I loved his blog.
  • Mechanisms of interaction: I subscribed to her newsletter with one click. I followed his social media accounts in an instant.
  • The fonts are gorgeous. I want that CSS! (stands for Cascading Style Sheets). https://skillcrush.com/2012/04/03/css/

Don’t worry if you don’t get CSS. Themes come with fonts, and you use them like in a text editor; by choosing titles and default text. Experiment.

Phases To Go Through

  1. Choose your platform (WordPressWix, etc.)
  2. Choose a domain name (no cryptic words, make it easy for people to find you!). Register the www- address.  How to get a domain name 
  3. Install the website builder of your choice. Best website builder software: https://www.thebest10websitebuilders.com/charts/2/best-website-builders
  4. Get familiar with the dashboard of the software. 
  5. Choose a theme: https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/responsive-theme/
  6. Create a header that consists of a headline and a theme image. Canva is great for making graphic elements. It’s free and offers multiple styles. Choose pictures and a theme that goes with your genre.
  7. Add your core pages. I suggest the following: front/home page, landing page (for offers), books for sale or upcoming books (presale marketing). Additional pages to your liking: short stories, author bio, guest authors (swap for publicity), blog, competitions, and whatever you like.

More information and detailed steps by The Write Practicehttps://thewritepractice.com/building-an-author-website/

Up-to-date Content

Yes, it’s a great idea to have a blog and a newsfeed and social media interaction on your page, but remember that you must keep up with the pulsating beat of updates.

Outdated content from the year 2017 won’t speak for you, to the contrary.

Images

Start with static elements and design them well. Please keep it simple but use high-quality photos. I’ve discussed how to buy commercial pictures in my previous blog post: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/12/11/how-to-design-a-book-cover/

The Main Message

“Authors often make the mistake of thinking that people visit their websites just to read their bio. Are you, the author, important? Sure, but your book is more important. Let people know they’re on an author’s website by making your product the star of the show.”

Source and more information: https://blog.reedsy.com/author-websites/

Tell the potential customers who you are as an author, and advertise your book. Always add a functioning link to Amazon or some other bookstore. Remember that each extra action causes your customers to fall out of the sales funnel. Make buying as easy as possible

Establishing a PayPal account and using the PayPal button has become rather easy nowadays. Remember to count printing, sending the book, and all other expenses so that you break at least even. If e-commerce becomes too complicated, just use the Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Play Books, etc. links with a buy now- button.

Remember to test. Everything on your page must work before you publish it!

An extra puzzle: what would make people come back to your site?

Plugins

A plugin is a mini-application that you can incorporate into your site. Most website builders offer a range of free plugins, but extra features demand a small monthly/yearly fee.

Examples:

Always test that the plugin works before you publish new content! 

Experiment, read DIY- articles and try again. If you fail, log into Fiverr and search for a skilled IT person.

For more information: https://www.makealivingwriting.com/12-essential-free-wordpress-plugins-for-your-writer-website/

Site Speed

If your header image is 15 Megabytes and takes twenty seconds to load, nobody cares if it’s incredible. Pack your images and lose the extra byte size. 

For more information on image formats: https://themeisle.com/blog/best-image-format/

Test your site speed with several different browsers and operating systems. Ask friends and family to experiment. Post a poll on social media and allow fans to voice their opinion.

Scalability

Scalability means that your website theme and the mechanics behind the visual facade adapt to different viewer devices and screen sizes. Open that mobile phone of yours and check your visuals. Ask friends to look at pages and click on the links. Request an honest opinion and have them answer a few questions. The process is similar to the beta reading of your book.

Remember that having no author site is the worst option. Having a 90s feel with everything blinking 100 mph is almost as bad as having no page. Boasting a smooth functioning website is your calling card as a professional writer. 

SEO- search-Engine Optimization

People must find you among a kazillion other writers and bloggers. If you don’t know what the infamous SEO means, check out my previous blog post on the subject: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/03/12/search-engine-optimization-for-writers/

Building An Author Brand

Branding means that you use consistent features throughout your virtual existence. Having the same account name everywhere and using a logo helps people recognize you wherever they stumble upon your content. 

A film-noir color scheme on your website? Great! (if you’re a mystery writer). Use the same header on your social media. After you get the hang of branding, a consistent effort soon becomes second nature.

But, a brand is much more than colors and visuals. You know what a writer’s voice is, don’t you? The brand is your voice when it comes to the web: instantly recognizable and consists of a thousand little things.

“Brand is everything people perceive you as. It’s your personality, every word you write, the fonts and colors you use, the way you make people feel when they read your books or visit your website. Many people wrongly equate brand to a logo or website colors and although these are brand elements, a brand is much more than just these graphic aspects.”

Source and more information on branding your writing career: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/11/10/authentic-author-brand/

Remember that practice makes perfect. 

Landing Page

Start simple and add complicated elements after you master the basics. Create a landing page if you don’t know what else to do. Many website builders and emailing software offer articles and advice on how to create a simple landing page.

A landing page should:

  • House your writer bio (short) 
  • Show off your products = books
  • Engage the customer and keep the conversation going
  • Offer promo codes and discounts (IMPORTANT!)
  • Advertise an incentive to a selected group of customers (give them a VIP-feeling)
  • Gather those precious contact details

Source and more information: https://mailchimp.com/resources/landing-pages-design-tips/

TIP: Think like your customer. What do you value when you look for a book to buy?

Have fun, and ask me if you’re baffled. Request to join my Facebook group for writers to discuss the matter: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569574570248527

How to Design a Book Cover

covers

Most books evoke a feeling the instant you look at them. In the perfect scenario, the title whips up the intrigue, and the cover has gorgeous artwork. As you read the blurb and author bio, you become convinced that you must buy this book. 

The surefire elements to use in a book cover are the Main Character and the setting of your story. Most authors choose this scenario. Some book cover artists have a special gift of creating motion, but a static capture of your hero/heroine in his/her natural habitat works. The aim is to inform the customer about the following facts (within a few second’s decision time):

  • genre
  • mood
  • main character
  • setting and era
  • theme 
  • author

If you’re unsure about your book’s title, read my previous blog post about the matter: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/09/27/the-trouble-with-naming-your-book/

Look at other author’s choices. If you find a cover that matches all your hopes, find out who the artist is, and hire him/her. Collecting a set of all-time favorites helps you decide on the critical elements. If you hire a professional graphic designer, he will ask what kind of covers you like.

What you need to decide

It doesn’t matter at this point who will do the cover. Before any of the graphical work starts, you must make up your mind on several matters.

  1. Do you want to feature your main character or characters on the cover? If the answer is yes, you must know what the hero wears and how the heroine loves to braid her hair. What is the Main Character’s weapon of choice? Remember that nobody knows your sassy protagonist like you do. 
  2. Setting/ the background. Do you have an essential place in your book which could work as the backdrop of the cover? Decide on weather, time of day, geography…and so on.
  3. Do you have a color scheme or other preferences? Which matches your idea of a cover style: magical, sparkly, dark, futuristic, dystopian? Bright light or a sharp contrast?
  4. What are the themes of your book? Which genre? Do you want a traditional cover or something which will stand out among your numerous competitors?
  5. Do you have symbols that could make a different cover?
  6. What fonts do you like? What is your subtitle?
  7. Author bio: you need an introduction to the back cover. Why would people read a book by you? Who are you as a writer?
  8. Blurb!! This is important. Why would the readers love your book? Write the blurb for the ideal reader.
  9. Provide the artist a defining moment from your book. Do you want this moment portrayed on the cover?
  10.  If you adore some book cover, define what is so great about it? Fonts, image, design, style?

Symbols

Sometimes, you need to stand out among competitors, and that means choosing a different approach.

Symbols

A modern dystopian example of symbol usage is The Hunger Games trilogy. George Orwell’s 1984, a classic, has worn several famous book cover designs since the first edition in 1949. This evergreen dystopian has spawned famous words like “Orwellian.” The ever-watchful eye featured in many a cover of 1984 has become the icon of Big Brother.

Another dystopian example is Margaret Atwood’s The handmaid’s Tale. We all know what the red hood means. The books mentioned above (and their movie/tv-series adaptations) have become so famous that their imagery is part of our subconsciousness. If your story has a central theme or a potent symbol, why not use it. 

Doing It By Yourself

An e-book cover for Amazon is the easy part. But if you plan on publishing a paperback and a hardcover, not to mention an audiobook, you must know the exact dimensions! Printing a book with an error in the trim size becomes expensive. If your book comes out in several formats, I suggest you hire a professional designer.

Amazon KDP paperback templates: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230

You need to know in advance:

  • Operating system (Ios or Windows)
  • Trim size: the most common trim size for paperbacks in the US is 6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm), but you have several trim size options. If you’re unsure which size to pick, find books with content similar to yours to get an idea of what readers expect.
  • Language
  • Page count which affects the trim size
  • Remember to leave room for the barcode on the back

Choose a Cover Image

The easiest way to start is to choose a photo from an image bank, download it to Canva or some other graphic editor and start experimenting. If you’ve got excellent image manipulation skills up your sleeve, combine two or more images.

Each image bank embellishes available photos/illustrations with keywords. You can find the spitting image of your MC by listing physical descriptions. Reserve time for the search. The cover is your book’s face and one of the critical components of buyer decision making.

“This should go without saying, but your picture should match your genre. Could you imagine if Stephen King’s It had a cute puppy on the cover? The reader would surely be in for a surprise. Now, that example may seem a bit extreme. But there are too many authors out there who don’t get specific enough with their picture. And remember, your photo shouldn’t just fit your genre. It should also support your specific book.”

Source and more information: https://kindlepreneur.com/book-cover-ideas/

Image Banks

The services mentioned below rank their stock in different categories. You should always check the license of a particular image before you use it on a print product. Each company offers various pricing and payment methods. You can buy a single image or several each month.

IStock: https://www.istockphoto.com/

Shutterstock: https://www.shutterstock.com/

Getty Images: https://www.gettyimages.fi/

123RF: https://www.123rf.com/

Design Tools 

Canva https://www.canva.com/create/book-covers/

(Free and Pro versions have different characteristics.)

Adobe Photoshop: https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html

Adobe Illustrator: https://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator.html

Adobe Spark: https://spark.adobe.com/make/book-cover-maker/

Font Choices

“Fonts are unquestionably one of the most important things that appear on a book cover – often being the “make or break” factor. The type of font you should use will largely depend on the genre that your book is written in. A recommendation that I made in my previous blog posts is to always look at the bestselling book covers within your genre.”

Source and more information: http://inspiredcoverdesigns.com/the-best-fonts-to-use-on-a-book-cover-by-genre/

Factors to consider:

  • Layout
  • Sentence structure
  • Direction
  • Color

“A study from an MIT psychologist found a direct link between a poor layout and negative emotions in readers.”

Source and more information: https://kindlepreneur.com/book-cover-typography-font/

Hiring a Professional Graphic Designer

Decide if you’ll settle for a premade cover. The process is easy, the artist replaces the Lorem Ipsum text with your author name and book title, bio, and blurb. But you won’t get a unique book cover.

Example: https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/

If you want the designer to make an exquisite cover, start by looking for professional illustrators and artists:

Fiverr

Reedsy: https://reedsy.com/#/freelancers

Choose category design.

Or Google for book cover designers. Ask other authors about experiences working with a particular artist.

How to Make Sure Your Readers Love The Cover?

Publish different versions of the final cover on social media and ask your followers to voice their opinion. Cover reveals work as pre-release marketing. You can even design a campaign or contest around the cover reveal.

If you need help, ask me. I also design book covers.


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Why Every Writer Needs a Newsletter

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Want to start a writer’s newsletter? I heard the BLAH. But you want people to buy your book, don’t you? Everybody screams: yes! Maybe you have an author presence at several social media platforms, and creating another content channel feels like much work and no fun.

I always say: choose your weapons. We have our preferences, and someone swims like a fish on Twitter as the next person loves Instagram (I do). When you open a new channel to reach for your readers, nothing is more direct than a newsletter. The preferred message arrives at people’s private inboxes. The list of your newsletter subscribers is a database of potential book-buying customers.

The Introvert Dilemma

Many of us are introverts and miss the golden times when authors sat typing while sipping red wine and chain-smoking. The manuscript traveled via snail mail to the publisher who took care of the rest, which became history.

Well, those days are long gone. Even if you hook the agent with a genius query letter, and consequently, Barnes & Noble is dying to publish your book, they still want you to market it! The agent takes a look at your social media presence, and so does the publisher. Do you blog? How many subscribe to your newsletter? Three? Thirty? Three thousand? The numbers don’t lie; they tell the professionals that you know how to market, and you’re a potential moneymaker. 

Writing is easy; selling the book is the hard part. Not selling has created more disgruntled ex-writers than booze and the Second World War combined.

The Facebook Poll

If you’re not a member of my Facebook Writer’s Group, join now: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569574570248527

I asked the members which issue I should blog about next, and the answer is (ta-da): Author Newsletter.

This is because writers think the newsletter is the hardest channel to create because of technical difficulties with WordPress plugins and what-not IT- problems. But there’s another obstacle which is more difficult to overcome: fear of marketing your brainchild.

The Key to Your Online Presence as a Writer is Making a Connection

There’s no going around this evil duty: you must establish a newsletter. And newsletter marketing is so much more than blasting: “Buy my book!” on days without end.

“If you’re an author, this means identifying the target market for your books and understanding how they spend their time online. If you’re writing for a young adult audience, spend some time immersing yourself in the densely populated online world of YA readers and writers. What do they like to see from YA authors online? How do they discover new books and new authors?”

Source and more information: https://writersedit.com/self-publishing/ultimate-guide-establishing-author-newsletter/

And: https://writersedit.com/self-publishing/ultimate-guide-online-author-presence/

 The Subject Matter

Think about your Social Media posts. You’ve established a set of content types and subjects which your followers enjoy. Use that knowledge when you create newsletters. Programs like MailChimp (which I use) have excellent tutorials that guide you toward better marketing. The web overfills with marketing courses for writers. Ask your author friends who sell impressive figures, on Amazon or elsewhere, how they studied marketing.

Steps of creating The Author Newsletter

  1. Choose a newsletter program to use. MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, AWeber, and many more.
  2. Embed a subscription form on your website. Sometimes you need to copy-paste a string or HTML- code from the newsletter software to WordPress or whoever hosts your site. Allow subscribers to sign up via a form in the sidebar or footer on every page of your website.
  3. Decide how often you send. Once a month is enough if you ask me. This frequency also allows you time to design awesome content.
  4. Gather subscribers before sending out anything. Offer a freebie in return for giving their email address.
  5. Compose your newsletter. Promote the newsletter across Social Media and build your subscriber base.

Legal Matters

Don’t add anyone into your subscribers unless you have their permission! Also, learn about spam legislation in your country. 

 Organizations that don’t comply face hefty fines.

Source and more information: https://writersedit.com/self-publishing/ultimate-guide-establishing-author-newsletter/

What To Put in Your Newsletter?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Googling the search term: “What to put in your author newsletter” produces some great articles. Think of your products and who you are as a writer. Draw lines around what you feel comfortable sharing.

A list of possible subjects:

  • Share customer reviews 
  • book excerpts 
  • cover reveal, or a sneak peek
  • giveaways: a signed copy of your book or a chance to ask you questions about your characters
  • Share your blog
  • Exclusive articles that you don’t share elsewhere. Give your subscribers the feeling they are VIP, part of a selected few.
  • who you are as an author and a person
  • awards from writing competitions and honorable mentions
  • writing advice
  • spotlights on other authors
  • books that gave you inspiration for your writing

Source and more information: https://allthekissing.com/2018/10/what-to-include-in-an-author-newsletter/

Be Patient and Study Statistics

Remember that new skills take time to master. You spent several years learning writing and developed through trials and tribulations into the author you are today. Study how each post does. MailChimp and others offer excellent spreadsheets for statistics. Take heed of the percentages: how many opened your email? Did the opening produce link clicks? Don’t replay errors and use the themes & content which people love to open and follow. 

You do this with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, don’t you? If not, start immediately. 

Each link click loses a percentage of your customers. Design your newsletters in a way that offers direct, clear statements and endorses a call to action. Allow subscribers to comment and respond. Pick a theme for each newsletter. If you lead your subscribers into a maze of confusing directions, they won’t end up buying the product.

The Funnel

Seeing that only 1,3% of receivers ended up clicking the Shop Now-link of your recent newsletter might depress you, but the funnel explains what happened. It’s normal; most customers don’t come out as frequent buyers at the bottom.

FUNNEL.jpg

Image source and an interesting article on digital sales: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/sales-funnel/

“A marketing funnel is a collection of stages that prospective customers move through with the first stage being the awareness stage. Marketing funnels were designed to push these potential customers through the buyer’s journey to ultimately purchase a brand’s products or services.”

Source and more information on funneling: 

https://powerdigitalmarketing.com/blog/a-guide-to-marketing-funnels/#gref

Study funnels and everything else. And stay patient because an expert industry attempts to unravel the secrets of buyer decision making and the psychology of the hunter-gatherer. As an author, you are a start-up business, but leave time for child-like unchained creation. Do something small every day to add subscribers to your list. Post daily on social media and learn to publish content which has a demand. Before you know it, you have cracked the killer combination. 

Even if you end up with the email addresses of sixty people, that’s sixty more than the guy or gal next to you.

Do You Study Character Actors When You Plan Your Next Story? – You Should!

Glam retro diva

Do you struggle with creating characters that feel like real people? You’re not alone. The job becomes harder when you have multiple books up your sleeve. Variation is tough work, and as humans, we are tempted to repeat models which worked in the past. Beware of the cookie-cutter character!

Character or Plot-driven?

If your writing style is plot-driven, you develop the three acts and the key scenes first, and characters develop after that. Maybe the first thing you envision is the historical era or the fantasy setting with intricate maps and systems of magic?

If you’re character-driven like me, you see the characters in your dreams. You hear them talk and envision them in different scenarios. I speak the dialogue out loud and practice the expressions of my heroine in front of a mirror. I form the MC and the villain first. The conflict brewing between them becomes my main idea, and their backstories take form later on. But a character with little to do is… yawn. Many writers elevate the characterization over the plot, but if you don’t get on with the story… wham! That’s the sound your book makes when the reader tosses it to the corner and shall never pick it up. 

Which type of writer are you? Examine your preferences. 

 “It doesn’t matter how “interesting” the character is if you cannot create an antagonistic environment that chisels and defines that character. Even an awesome plot that takes the reader on the most mind-bending twists and turns will fall flat when depending on the strength of one-dimensional character. No matter how you approach storytelling, remember this: your story needs both character and plot.”

Source and more information: https://nybookeditors.com/2017/02/character-driven-vs-plot-driven-best/

Emotional Identification

Let us return to the process which actors and actresses go through as they layer their next Oscar- nominating role. Yes, they have their work cut out for them, like the screenwriters who wrote the part which snatches the attention of Anthony Hopkins or Angelina Jolie.

Method acting means a technique in which an actor aspires to complete emotional identification with a role. Method acting was developed by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg in particular and is associated with star actors such as Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman

“Method actors have this amazing ability to not only get into character but live through the character and bring an unsurpassable depth. What I love about Method Actors is that they don’t appear to be acting, they appear to be living; they know how to get into character so well that you believe they ARE the character. Lots of method actors are very humble about their work, but when you see them on stage or screen, it is electrifying, to say the least.” 

Source: http://www.standbymethod.com/how-to-get-into-character/

As a practice, compile a Pinterest moodboard of your favorite movie actors in their most bedazzling roles and compare them to their photos taken on the red carpet. The difference between the person and the character is striking! Great actors and actresses take their roles seriously. Whatever they do, whether on stage or screen, will be forever etched either onto film or in the minds of their audience. They move hearts and will live on in the souls of their fans. The mechanism of transferring emotional identification is your aim as a writer.

Watch a clip of Meryl Streep On Accessing The Characters Within:

https://youtu.be/phv85MERpLw

If you write from personal experience, you have an array of intimate emotions at your disposal, but you might struggle with transferring that emotion to the inexperienced reader. The actress uses her director as a mirror. Who do you use? Duh! Beta readers, of course. Remember to ask if they felt the emotional fireworks. This is important because the book lives or dies via Showing, Not Telling. The audience experiences what your Point-of-View character senses with his eyes, nose, ears, skin, and so forth.

Remember that the reader must also understand the villain on some human level, and you are responsible for making that happen. A character actor villain has what’s called a presence. When he steps on the stage, he rules the scene. How does that happen? You’ll feel the tingling on your skin and the chills down your spine.

Ruining Your Favorite Movie

Warning: using my method might ruin watching movies for you. Like when you started learning the craft of authorship, which spoiled the enjoyment of a great book. That’s because you know how the chassis works and cannot see the beauty of the Ferrari sportscar anymore.

Watch clips of great method actors in their star roles. Choose characters that resemble your own. The clips help you construct body-language and subtle expressions because method actors are rarely flamboyant—unless the role demands precisely that. Think of Joker in Batman: he’s a showman, which means he knows how to get the audience’s attention big time. Admire how Heath Ledger breathes life into the iconic villain.

The age of the internet has made extensive research more accessible than ever before. You have libraries of movie clips to watch. See how Anthony Hopkins or J. T. Walsh animates a bad guy. Who is your favorite hero? How has he aged and changed? Remember that the nature of characters is perpetual motion. Does blind idealism fill your favorite heroine, or does she come from between the-rock-and-a-hard place?

angelina

Do your characters age?

Image source: https://www.fashiongonerogue.com/photo-shoot/angelina-jolie-peter-lindbergh-wsj-2015-cover/

However, this method doesn’t allow copycatting. You shouldn’t copy a movie on paper; its a copyright infringement and punishable by law. Watching great actors at work can be compared to moodboarding: seeking material for inspiration.

Two Sides of The Same Coin

“The best and worst specimens of humanity are two sides of the same coin. Heroes and villains are not categories that are divided by the expansive sea of morality never to have their shores meet. On the contrary, both the most exalted heroism and diabolical villainy are manifestations of a human spirit that has become capable of great things. And great things need not be good things.”

Source: https://rightreason.typepad.com/right_reason/2013/04/good-evil-and-human-capability.html

What differentiates good from evil? Point-of-view. Yes, sin is relative, and you can use this in your writing because humans are a social species. Skillful actors mud their characters layer by layer, and they mirror themselves on other people. One of the best tricks you can throw at your readers is to let someone else reflect the bad guy. Describe how the military villain’s subordinates act when he enters the room. Show a conversation between the hero and his sidekick about the dark one. 

If you want to dig deeper into the depths which a character actor would use, show the villain’s first crime: when he wasn’t yet a developed killer. 

The sides of the coin are the reason why the same brilliant actor portrays heroes and villains with incredible authenticity.

More advice on designing your Villain/Antagonist: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/01/04/give-evil-the-central-stage-groundbreaking-villain-moments/