I finally did it!
Some time ago I was very excited because I self-published my novella on Smashwords: Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers.The excitement died down when I made only one sale, after having the book free for a month and getting lots of (free) downloads. Obviously my marketing techniques are less than brilliant. However, this was primarily by way of experiment and learning and at least I got to grips with the self-publishing system.
I have at last published two other books on Smashwords, another novella, Lord of Shalott, and a collection of three short stories, Three Legends. I also published these, plus Silkskin, on Amazon. They have all gone ‘live’ although Smashwords hasn’t approved the new ones for distribution to sites like Apple yet. (That can take about a week.) So at least I have kept one of my New Year’s resolutions, which was that this was the year I would self-publish these three books.
Here are the links to my ‘author’ pages. On Smashwords, make sure you have the adult filter off. These are adult books with some mild erotic content.
I read a lot of self-publishing advice and I thought for ages about the marketing ploy of making Silkskin free, but it backfired. New titles get some interest but are quickly buried under a mass of other publications. By the time I set a price, interest had waned. So for the other two, there’s a charge from the start. I’ve kept them very cheap, and I’m hopeful. If they go well I might do some giveaways later, and meanwhile I do have some Smashwords discount codes (100%) to hand out to anyone who’s desperate or – and this may be the main thing – willing to leave a helpful review. I can’t do that for Amazon – it’s free for all or none there.
I should perhaps say that I did everything – writing, obviously, but less obviously formatting and cover art – myself. You’ll realise if you read my last post that it was an arduous process and I’m quite proud of the results. It rather took over my life for the last few months and has been the reason I haven’t done much actual writing recently. Soon I intend to start on the formatting of a couple of my novels but at least I now know what I’m doing!
If you are interested, you can find the books on Amazon, or on Smashwords, under the author name Jay Mountney. You don’t have to be interested in the books themselves to comment here about my work on the formatting etc!! I’m always delighted to discuss those issues and ideas about cover art.
Apart from Silkskin, which was originally written for a fanfic challenge (yes, fairytales are a fandom, but of course there’s no copyright so the lines are blurred), the stories were not recent efforts. But they have been polished recently and I’m happy to have them out there as samples of my work.
Here are the covers for your entertainment, a little larger than they appear on the sale pages but not, of course, full size.
I like how the castle smoothly passes into its reflection. Gives a bit of uncanny feeling, as if there was something not-quite-OK in oh-so-nice place. Promising and enticing, as a cover should be.
I like also the idea with swords for tt, but if I may suggest, I’d rather make the font white or pale gray, all three lines. Black gets lost in the background. And to avoid melting the white font with the cloud, I think a bit of shadow would be useful (if such tool is available).
I tried various colours for the font and all of them had some drawbacks. I ended up with black as a sort of default. I suppose if you are putting text onto a multicoloured background that’s always going to be a problem – I know I’ve found it with icons and birthday cards for LJ. One way round is to give the text a ‘box’ or some kind of shadow but for this – well – it didn’t look right. If I do a new cover – which is unlikely but you never know – I will try white because I’m not sure I did!! I’ll certainly bear that advice in mind for my next covers – thank you!
I was pleased with the water effect. The castle is, of course, a mix of more than one castle from my photographs. Then I had to edit out bits like TV aerials and drainpipes. *g*. I added some plant life and then took the whole thing to an online editing site that produces nice water effects – and finally added the ‘frame’ of leaves and then messed with the colours. It got the effect I wanted for the ‘location’ – I’m glad it worked for you.
The castle is, of course, a mix of more than one castle from my photographs. Then I had to edit out bits like TV aerials and drainpipes.
Well done, cause neither mixing nor cleaning traces are not visible! 🙂
Yeah, deciding on colours is almost always a quandary… Though for me choosing a font is even worse.
One way round is to give the text a ‘box’ or some kind of shadow but for this – well – it didn’t look right.
If I may push in with another suggestion (uh, I hope WordPress will let the links), possibly you mean it looked like this?
If so, and if your software lets for it, try different parameters of shadow. How about like this?
And, for comparing, the shadowless version:
(sorry for the font, I just grabbed the first at hand)
The first one is 8px on Y, 8px on X, almost no blur, and 95% blackness. The second one 0px on Y and X, relatively strong blur, and some 40% blackness.
I love the first one! But I’m not sure my graphics programs do it – I use Photoshop and Fireworks. I will experiment!! Oh – and png format is not acceptable – it has to be jpeg or tiff.
WordPress gets very excited about links in comments – it takes three steps for me to approve the comment but at least they now let me. Some time ago they just threw out anything with links as spam.
Yes, they certainly will do! Google the phrase “how to use drop shadows in photoshop”. I’ve seen also tutorials for shadows in Fireworks. IMO, shadows are great for making graphics more ‘touchable’, so to speak. Admittedly they’re a bit risky, cause it’s easy to overdo them, like all rainbows, glitters and such. As for formats, I used png cause jpeg usually gets awful artifacts in such cases, everything is speckled. But as far as I know, tiff is similar to png, though very heavy.
Three steps??? Worse than LJ screening. Hopefully they’ll make it more reasonable in future. I’ll remember to send links rather in messages, for the time being.
I’ve found some articles and bookmarked them. Thank you!
Hiya! Popping in to let you know that I just finished reading “Lord of Shalott” and really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be checking out your other books.
It’s soooooo refreshing to read fantasy fiction that has very strong classic influences, not only with regard to subject, but also narrative style. I think you and M. King are the only gay romance writers I know who write fantasy fiction with distinctive (and lovely) folktale qualities.
I’m so glad you liked it, and thanks for letting me know!
The other two books uploaded at the moment are also based on folktales, but in 2013 I’m hoping to publish The Scroll (and the sequel, The Market), which you were kind enough to help with – and I could do with knowing how you’d like your name to appear in a ‘thank you to…’ paragraph.