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
Why I Dedicated My Book to the Freaks

Why I Dedicated My Book to the Freaks

This book is dedicated to the freaks and misfits, the broken and the scarred,

the ones who live in hiding and the ones who live out loud,

those who are frightened and those who are brave.

Love yourself. Grow freely.

You are beautiful and you are not alone.

Pain. Most of us go through great lengths to avoid it, numb it, or bury it. While writing The Sick Series, I spent hours researching one of the most gruesome and disturbing compulsions known to humankind – to mutilate oneself.

(more…)

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…)

Bloggiversary: 2 Years of Sweet Delirium

Crazy man mime My Sweet Delirium

I was just informed by WordPress that this blog turns 2 years old today! I want to thank all of my subscribers and readers for being so supportive and always giving me much to think about. I’d also like to know what you would like to see more of on My Sweet D in the future.

  • Are there any topics you’d like me to cover?
  • Are there others you’d prefer me to shut up about already?
  • What were your favorite posts?

I know I haven’t been writing a lot this past year. I know it’s inexcusable and I plan to change that very soon. There are so many blog post ideas in my notebook that I haven’t written. Also, look forward to upcoming:

So, please, give me your questions, suggestions, and feedback. Love you all!

***

Paying it forward: If you have a book coming out, a promo going on, or just need some exposure for a friend, leave it the comments section below and I’ll tweet it out for you.

***

Oh by the way…

The people have spoken. In the vote for SICK the Sequel100% of SICK readers voted in favor of continuing the story. Despite the nausea and concerns for my sanity, SICKER is written and in revision mode. To be released April 13th, 2016. Yes…

SICKER: is available for preorder.

Welcome to the mind of John Branch.

SICKER EBOOK COVER SLANT 3 Small

Reserve your Kindle copy.

United States

United Kingdom

Canada

Australia

Add to Goodreads.

 

Thanks again, everyone. I’m a very, very grateful blogger 🙂

My Author Interview at @JeriWB’s Word Bank

My Author Interview at @JeriWB’s Word Bank

An interview I did on Jeri WB’s blog about reading, writing, and marketing.

“According to the magic of Twitter’s advanced search feature, Christa Wojciechowski thanked me for a retweet in late February and asked about my weekend plans. My reply: “Scoping out the sleaziest bar in town with a friend for research purposes 😉 She said to bring pepper spray.” And thus another amazing social media connection was made. She also arranged the recent author interview here with Jason Smith.” 

Official Bio: Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong DavidSICK: A novella, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.

Christa currently resides in Panama with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital marketer and loves to help fellow authors build their brands and platforms. Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and the outdoors. Most of all, she’s passionate about books and writers and loves discussing them on social media.

1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.

My latest novella, SICK, is a psychological suspense. Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden.

After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.

John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. As his health begins to improve, Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.

sick psychological suspense

2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing. 

Aside from all the reasons most writers write (emotional release, the rush of creativity, senseless compulsion) I kind of use my stories as mathematical proofs to test theories. I put X person in Y situation and add different variables to see what the outcome is. Sometimes I think I know the answer, but more often than not, my characters prove me completely wrong. That is one of the exhilarating parts of writing.

My work usually deals with a universal questions, and my main goal is to break people’s assumptions and make them see humanity in a different light. Evil and good, pleasure and pain are relative. I like to make people think about things they don’t want to think about–the things that everyone has lurking in their mind, but would never admit it to themselves, much less anyone else.

Christa Wojciechowski Sick Quote

3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?

I have a difficult time being a conscious individual who knows that she may die without ever knowing the mysteries of the universe. I lost my faith somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood, and I know scientists are far from explaining everything. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and feel like my skull will crack open at the sheer incomprehensibility of existence, so my passions in life are either to seek explanations, find solace in beauty and nature, or simply to distract myself from thinking about those mammoth questions that may never be answered (this usually involves wine). I’ve lived in Panama for the past ten years, so I spend a lot of time hiking to secret waterfalls, bird watching, and water sports. Writing also helps relieve the uneasiness, and you’ll find that most of my characters are in the middle of some existential crisis just like their creator.

Christa Wojciechowski Waterfall

4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?

I will say Crime and Punishment has been on my all-time favorite list longer than any other book. Dostoevsky forces us into the mind of tormented Raskolnikov. We join him in acting on his idea about the extraordinary man, and not only do we consider his warped logic, we sympathize with him. Crime and Punishment is like a proof. The character himself is testing his theory, and Dostoevsky forces you to think about questions you wouldn’t normally think about. I love that, and I always look for books that shatter our default beliefs about morality, humanity, and philosophy. We should not become complacent with our perspective. We should always ask questions, test our boundaries, and seek the truth.

5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

My blog is called My Sweet Delirium. You can either visit mysweetdelirium.com or christawojo.com. I usually host discussions on creativity, art, life, existentialism, and the occasional story about Panama. I’m a freelance digital marketer who builds platforms for writers, so I do squeeze in the occasional book marketing post too.

Christa Wojciechowski Author Photo

6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?

I’m still an inexperienced writer, so my system isn’t well established yet. My first novella, The Wrong David, was written in one sleepless night on a wine inspired whim. Then I experimented with writing three full-length books, which were done for NaNoWriMo. I made a rough outline for the first book, but I pretty much winged it with the other two. Now those three books are such beautiful disasters, they’ve been stuck in revision mode indefinitely.

Sick was an experiment to see how quickly I could produce a quality book. I didn’t leave any room for procrastination, and so far it has been the best experience.

As far as my revising and editing process, I give my first draft to my gang of beta readers. After I get their feedback, I write another draft or two. Then I’ll work with critique partners to do a more thorough examination. After I implement their suggestions, I sent the manuscript to my editor. I do use professional editing services, and I strongly recommend that all writers do. Spend the money! No matter how meticulous of writer you are, a professional editor gives your book a noticeable polish that sets you apart from other indie authors.

7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?

I chose to self-pub. I already created a substantial network around my internet marketing business, and I didn’t feel I was ready to query agents yet. So far, I’ve done everything myself from start to finish. Graphic design, website management, content/social media marketing are part of my work, so I made my own covers and did my own formatting.

I really enjoy the process of publishing a book, especially when it comes to the print version. It’s so exciting to take an invisible idea in your head and make it into a physical object that anyone can pick up and experience.

I’m expanding my digital marketing services to include eBook and Createspace publishing. I believe the key to happiness is aligning one’s job with one’s passion, so this is my plan!

8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?

I would say to remember that quality is more important than quantity. When using social media or visiting blogs, take the time to really read and listen to those you engage with. People can tell when you’re leaving a rushed, canned comment and they really appreciate it when you make the effort to understand fully what they are trying to say and are grateful when you reciprocate with genuine value.

My most devoted fans are people I took the time to chat with or help in some way. Those types of fans not only will buy everything you publish, they become your cheerleaders and your reason to write on those difficult days.

9. What future projects can we look forward to?

The series of NaNo books I mentioned will be released eventually. Writing is the easy part. Revision is daunting. I published SICK in the meantime. I’ve been going through a challenging year and having an attainable side project kept me sane. SICK was a speed-publishing project where I wrote, revised, edited, formatted, and published on a strict time schedule. I’m always waiting till I have my manuscript perfect, but even years later I will see changes I want to make. It will never be perfect. I just wanted to do the best I could while limiting myself to a timeframe–to get it out there and let the readers deal with it, hahaha. So far, it’s a success. The reviews are amazing. People like it!

I’m writing the sequel to SICK right now. I believe all my writing is a mystical collaborative effort between me, the history of the world, biological evolution, technology, my first grade teacher, etc. I like to invite my readers to participate in my projects. I polled them about SICK and they said they wanted to see the story continue. Hopefully, it will be out early next year.

Christa Wojciechowski in Hat

10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?

I’m so thrilled to be living in this new age of social media and self-publishing. I love to collaborate and co-promote with other authors and bloggers. I’m open to everyone, so if you have a marketing or publishing questions, don’t be afraid to ask me. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you, and I’ll be sure to mention you on my blog and profiles.

#HappyThanksgiving #BRB!

2015-11-16 12.08.42

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been posting and responding to comments lately. I have been traveling with the rest of the Wojo’s. We went to the Bahamas and I’ll be spending turkey day with the family in Florida. I’ll be back to my normal shenanigans next week. I’m very anxious to get back to writing my sequel to SICK. I also found out I have a sick parrot at home. I’m so worried about her and powerless to help from here. If anyone knows anything about birds, please leave me a message in the comment section. I suspect it’s a Giardia infection, but local vets don’t treat birds in Boquete. I’m desperate!

Other than that, I’m very grateful to be with my loved ones. I just want to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you eat and drink too much. Cheers! See you all next week 10 pounds heavier 😀

New Release in Psychological Suspense: SICK

Psychological Suspense Release

It’s out!

Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family’s former estate.

After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John as comfortable and as happy as possible. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication. 

As John’s condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of the creepy groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.

John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved by his skillful doctor and is soon released from the hospital. As his health begins to improve, Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.

Buy on Amazon

No Kindle? No problem. Read Kindle eBooks on any PC, Mac, or tablet with the Kindle app. Download the Kindle app here.

Thanks to my beta readers, my blog/social media followers, my family, and my editor Candace Johnson for helping me get my speed publishing project done. And thanks in advance for any reblogs or shares. XOXOXO

Thank you for visiting.

Please enjoy this novelette on the house.

Download my first published work in .mobi, .epub. or PDF format.

 

"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

Check your inbox to get your ebook!