Victims of Self-Published Book Covers

Victims of Self-Published Book Covers

Designing graphics is part of my job as a digital marketer. Still, design is not my specialty. I never had any formal training and I feel like I have much to learn. Despite my insecurities, I decided to design the covers for my self-published books.

I had four main reasons for designing my own book covers: first, because I love my stories and want to craft every part of them; second, because it was fun; third, because I felt uncomfortable trusting another person with my vision; and fourth, because designing my own book covers saved me a nice chunk of money. Hiring a professional book cover designer for three ebook covers and three paperback covers would’ve cost hundreds, if not thousands.

The first step for me when I design a new cover is deciding on an overall concept. I usually start by brainstorming some keywords from the theme of the story. Then I go to Dreamstime to find a picture that conveys the statement I want to make. I buy the image with the appropriate rights, download it, and use it as the foundation of the cover design. From there, I put on some music, experiment, and let whim take over.

Here’s a look at my before and afters!

Sick Part I

This book starts in a hospital as Susan Branch watches her husband throw a tantrum in the surgical recovery room. I wanted something that captured the smell of antiseptic and skin and blood. I looked up “stitches” or “sutures” and found this photo.

I confess, I think it’s a picture of a woman’s C-section, but it was so perfect with the staples pulling at the skin, the redness around the punctures, and the seam of the wound cascading into focus.

All I had to do was crop it and add some effects and filters to bring out the details and give it a sickening hue. And Viola! Thanks to this woman who was willing to photograph her scar and let it be sold on the internet.

Sick Part II

Just like the C-section wound – another mystery, why and how does a picture of a bruised man end up being sold on Dreamstime? Does the hospital or do the police sell pictures like these? I don’t know, but I’m glad I found him, and I hope whoever he is, that he is okay now and doesn’t mind that his torso is plastered all over the internet.

I don’t remember how I came across this image. I think I searched up “bruises.” Because my character John Branch shares his gruesome story in a very intimate way, I thought it would be good to be up close and personal with his body for this cover. The nipple hair, the moles, and the bare skin – it’s almost too close for comfort, just like John’s story. Perfect!

As you can see, I chose the color of this book cover based on the background of the original photo. I wouldn’t have normally thought of turquoise in a million years, but in this case, it worked since it invoked that institutional vibe of hospitals.

This man in the photo looked older than my character. He is in decent shape, but a little too flabby and he has lots of skin imperfections. John is supposed to be slightly repulsive, yet strangely alluring. I had to give my cover man the slightest bit of liposuction in the love-handle area and I removed some of his moles (ick, just that word) and blemishes. I also added more bruises and boosted the color to make it more garish. 

 

Sick Part III

For the crowning jewel, I chose this image of a couple entwined in a yin and yang formation. Our first impression in the book series is that John is bad and Susan is good, but later we realize there is a spot of bad and good in each of them.

John and Susan are like Adam and Eve, who by discovering the truth about themselves, must live a new world of darkness and uncertainty. They’ve lost their innocence, and in this cover, they appear to be curling up and hiding their faces in shame.

I added a peeling texture to the skin to signify the disease of pain and denial that had been eating away at them. John’s plague seems to be spreading onto Susan. I used a dark pink hue instead of what would’ve been a more womb-like red so that it didn’t look gory. This is not your typical horror or suspense story, and I didn’t want readers to have the wrong expectation. John and Susan are the doomed lovers inextricably intertwined, floating and lost, gestating until they are either transformed or destroyed.

This book was laborious and frustrating because real life had interrupted its development repeatedly. During the stretches of weeks and months I couldn’t work on it, I used this image as my screensaver to keep the story in my unconscious. My characters looked like they were in utero, and I told myself they were incubating in the womb of my mind. When I did have time to get back to my writing, they’d be ready to be born.

Thanks to these two beautiful people with the perfect skin that I ruined. It took a long time to get this cover right, but now it’s my favorite.

So, there you have my three self-published book cover victims – a woman who’d just given birth by C-section, a poor man who had been assaulted or in a car accident, and two nude, nubile models in a spotless studio. These strangers are now part of SICK. I hope they don’t mind.

 

Did you design your own covers?

If not, what was your experience like working with a professional cover designer?

If so, what’s the story behind your covers?

 

REVIEW THE SICK SERIES

REQUEST REVIEW COPIES
SICK: The Book Viral Review

SICK: The Book Viral Review

This review originally posted on BookViral.com

A powerful and gritty novella that plumbs the highs of hope and the depths of despair, Sick proves a genuine page-turner with Wojciechowski delivering an extraordinary read. With relentless momentum we are drawn to her narrative as intrigue mounts, feeling sure there is a twist coming but deftly misdirected as events spin further out of control. Mining the darkness of the hidden psyche to show us a glimpse of a reality few will ever experience to leave us deep in thought, it’s an ambitious theme to tackle in a novella but here it works in Wojciechowski’s favour. Her prose are tightly spun and characters are superbly nuanced with dialogue which brings an unrelenting sense of immediacy, telling her story in short staccato bursts that are just enough to bait us and keep us off balance as Susan grapples with the uncertainty of Johns downward spiralling health. Like most issue novels, this is not an easy read, but it becomes increasingly poignant and transcendent as Susan begins to see through the veil of deceit the real John has hidden behind. 

 

Wojciechowski has clearly set out to write a highly compelling story that brings the trauma of Factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome) into focus and her ability to tell a story that is so dark and full of pain speaks volumes to her talent as a writer. Highly original, it is recommended without reservation.

Thanks to Book Viral for their review of Sick Part I.

RECOMMEND SICK FOR THE CRIMSON QUILL AWARD

 

 

Buy the book.

Buy on Amazon US

Buy on Amazon UK

 

Submit your book for review to Book Viral.

SICK – The Complete Series Now in Kindle and Paperback

SICK – The Complete Series Now in Kindle and Paperback

Hello dear readers.

I know some of you were waiting for SICK Part III to come out in paperback. Well, it’s here and it’s beautiful! In fact, I reformatted the entire series in a smaller 5 by 8 inch size with updated covers in a silky matte finish that eerily feels like human skin.

Signed copies will be available for purchase on this site at the end of November 2017.

REVIEW THE SICK SERIES

REQUEST REVIEW COPIES
Project 13Dark is Reborn and Fully Funded – Here’s how to get the first issue.

Project 13Dark is Reborn and Fully Funded – Here’s how to get the first issue.

You all may wondered about the status of 13Dark. The great news is the first issue is fully funded and is about to come out. Due to unfortunate personal circumstances, I won’t be appearing in the first issue as planned, but I will be in the final issue. So, get started with DEAD VOICES featuring fresh, unique dark fiction from Tice Cin, Ross Jeffery, and Samuel Parr. Do it now. There are only 3 days left to back us!

JOIN PROJECT 13DARK

Get Your Issue#1: DEAD VOICES, plus book bundles, original signed artwork, writing coaching, and more!
Go!

 

THE STORY THUS FAR

Earlier this year, 13Dark ran an ambitious £32,000 kickstarter to launch a new publishing venture. This venture would publish the works of 13 incredible voices in dark fiction, including names such as Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Christa Wojciechowski, Eden Royce and Veronica Magenta Nero. 13Dark would also introduce newer voices such as Samuel Parr, Andy Cashmore, Tice Cin, Matthew Blackwell, Jamie Parry-Bruce, Anthony Self, Tomek Dzido and Ross Jeffery. These amazing stories would be released one-per-month and be accompanied by incredible artwork from Shawn Langley. While the campaign wasn’t funded successfully, many fans flocked to stop 13Dark from falling by the wayside, helping us to raise money via purchasing writing coaching and book bundles from us directly. Further to that, we were humbled to find our writers and artists decided to stick by our side and help us get back on track. Now, 13Dark has been re-configured and reborn. Instead of 13 individual stories published over 13 months, there will now be 4 issues of 13Dark, with 3 stories per issue, and the last issue including 4 stories. All of work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic.

 GET THE FIRST DIGITAL ISSUE  AND
YOUR NAME IN THE THANK YOU SECTION
WITH AS LITTLE AS £ 3 ($3.88)

 

Click here

 

Dead Voices will feature fiction from Samuel Parr, Tice Cin and Ross Jeffery, three new but astonishing voices in dark, weird fiction. But don’t take our word for it, read some samples on the IndieGoGo page.

 

Make the future of literary genre-fiction happen

  receive your first issue with your name inside!
Back Issue#1 DEAD VOICES
A Sign of How Much You Love Your Dogs

A Sign of How Much You Love Your Dogs

Nicknames are a sign of affection in most cultures. I just got back from a 6-week trip to the US. I’m rarely away from my dogs for that long and I realized just how many names I call them during our conversations. As a solitary writer, I speak to my dogs more than anyone. If the amount of Spanglish and other assorted nicknames is any indication of how much I love them, I love them muchísimo. Here’s a list of them so far.

(more…)

SICK Part III Release News (plus Cover Reveal!)

SICK Part III Release News (plus Cover Reveal!)

It’s official! Yesterday, after a grueling eight straight hours of revisions, I delivered SICK Part III to my courageous editor, Candace Johnson. This book put me through a painful labor. I began writing it almost one year ago. It think it was more difficult than the first two parts of the series for several reasons.

  1. I wanted to create an epic ending for my readers.
  2. I wanted to create an epic ending for myself.
  3. I wanted to give my characters the finale they deserved.
  4. I wanted the story to have depth and meaning.
  5. Life got in the way of writing.

I plan to put SICK Part III on preorder for 1/2 price by the end of the week.

The official release date will be in the middle of April 2017.

Join my author mailing list
to be notified as soon as it’s available for the preorder discount.
CLICK HERE.

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive and patient. I don’t think SICK fans will be disappointed!

I’ve left you a little draft of the cover to get you in the mood. I’d love to know what you think of it.

SICK Part III Release

Guess Who’s On Board!

Guess Who’s On Board!

I know my blog has sucked lately. You’re all very nice about it, but it’s true. And the third part of SICK is two months past my planned publication date. No writing, no revising, no blogging. The reason why I’m so busy is problem I’m very blessed to have. I have more work than I can handle, and more and more comes my way everyday.

Five years ago I started freelancing in web design and social media marketing. What began as a part time gig for extra Christmas money has now developed into a full-grown business. I am bursting at the seams and it’s time to get some help, so I’m thrilled to announce that my sister Gina has begun training as my first digital marketing protege!

I’m so grateful to have her help and I know everyone will love working with her. 2016 is galloping away and I have so many great plans for the future. I’m so glad I have someone on my team, especially my sister. Next in line for training is my baby sister, Tia. Then we’ll have the sister trifecta. Look out!

Not only am I training my sisters how to work and thrive in this creative and free lifestyle, I’m going to teach anyone who wants to learn. The demand for content management and social media marketing is exploding, and I’m developing a digital marketing course that covers all facets in an easily digestible format. You can learn more about the course and sign up for an invitation to the FREE beta-version here.

I’m also creating a course specifically for authors that includes my hacks and secrets to managing effective social media strategy without it consuming your writing time. You can get early access to that by signing up for Digital Marketing Mastery for Authors.

Last but not least, SICK Part III will be going out to my beta-reading crew  next month (I hope) and then to my wonderful editor, Candace at Change it Up Editing. I even have plans to unearth my drafts of The Sculptor Series for release, and I’m itching to start blogging regularly again.

Thanks so much for staying subscribed to this blog through the thick and thin. There’s lots to come next year, so stay tuned! XOXOXO

 

 

3 Independent Authors You Must Read Now

3 Independent Authors You Must Read Now

Originally Published on https://josephsale.wordpress.com

Hello everyone,

We live in a world of big brands, big names and celebrities, as is so wryly satirised in Ben Elton’s most recent comedy gold: Upstart Crow. In some ways, we have always had this culture. The gladiators of ancient Rome were much like the Olympic athletes we worship today. The Forum philosophers were no different to the TV personalities we watch now, offering advice on everything from sex to home-improvement.

But, the difference between our world and the ancient one (even going back only a hundred years or so) is saturation. There are simply so many more people than there used to be.

How then, can we find the gold, when everyone has a blog, everyone has a self-published book or song or film, and everyone is crying out to have their voices heard? It’s not easy, but one way is through simple recommendation. Who is being recommended and who isn’t? And who are people being recommended by?

This last part is so key. Many people I know blindly will buy anything which makes the Man Booker longlist, but really, only certain types of novel ever make it to that list, and often, they are books which are current with a particularly pertinent political or sociological theme. I’m not knocking that, but for me, timeless insight into humanity (I’m quoting Ben Elton again) is always preferable to a clever current opinion.

So, we all know who the big names are, but who are the smaller voices, no less valuable, no less insightful, but perhaps not as public as they might have been where they born 200 years earlier?

Here’s my list of 3 AWESOME independent authors, writing in a variety of genres, who I believe are worth your time and money and commitment. Please, take my recommendation and check out their stuff. Most of it is beyond reasonable in price – and all of it is excellent.

(in no particular order)

MOIRA KATSON

Recommended Title: Remnant (Book 2 of Crucible Series)

I became aware of Moira Katson’s work after discovering she had worked on City of the Shrouda strategic video-game set in a fantasy universe. Her narrative was intriguing, complex and felt fresh, especially in a genre in which story is often put to one side. It was then I discovered her range of novels; I picked up Remnant (she recommended it for me) and was simply blown away by the pathos of it. She writes with a sure hand, offering immense insight into the emotional worlds of her characters. Always psychologically real, always exciting and focused, her narratives explode (sometimes literally) with surprises. Full of twists and sensitive prose which slowly seeps into your heart, she is one for anyone who loves SCI-FI or FANTASY with real human dimensions to it.

Twitter: @moirakatson

CHRISTA WOJCIECHOWSKI

Recommended Title: Sick (Book 1 of the SICK Series)

Christa’s Sick series is incredible, and showcases her amazing feeling for character voice. Never a line out of place, an action out of sync, or an erroneous thought to be found. Like a method actor, she seemingly becomes her characters, rendering their voices in methodical prose which ensnares you. Her feeling for voice and character soliloquy never detracts from her sense of pace, however; her novels are dynamic and full of action. What’s more, she knows how to build and turn a twist, and even better, to impart the reader with Shakespearean dramatic irony. For anyone who likes PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR in the vein of King’s Misery and Finder’s Keepers, then Christa is the one for you!

Twitter: @christawojo

MICHAEL BRAY

Recommended Title: At the Edge of Night

I first became aware of Michael Bray when my story appeared alongside his in Dark Hall Press’s Technological Horror Anthology. I quickly realised that the energy and feeling of his prose set him apart, as well as his certain exploration of extreme human emotions: fear, desperation, suicidal depression, feverish madness, longing. Rather than coming across as cartoonish or exaggerated, as they often do in the hands of amateurs, these states are presented with subtlety and depth and speak to true human experience. This is, perhaps, Michael’s greatest strength and why his novels are becoming more and more widely read.

Mesmerising prose, fantastic characterisation and intriguing explorations of humanity’s underbelly: all good reasons to go for Michael Bray. I’m a particular fan of his short fiction, and hence, have recommended his 28 story collection At the Edge of Night. 

Twitter: @michaelbrayauth

I hope you all enjoyed this list. Please, let me know if there is anyone you would add to it. Let’s build a network of people, all sharing awesome innovative new fiction. It’s not about being hipster, it’s about finding what we like in a world where it’s hard to do that (because there is so much to find). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above list and your own favourite independents.

As always, you can follow me @josephwordsmith, where I’m pretty chatty, and tweet aLOT about 2000AD.

Have a great week peeps!

Thank you for visiting.

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"Anyone who has ever secretly longed for the significant other of a close friend will immediately identify with this well-written story set in the South of France. The dialog is sharp and the characters believable. The writing is both funny and poignant."
–Max Tomlinson, author of 
The Cain File

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