Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It Can't be Impossible

A good cover can make all the difference in whether or not a reader buys a book or passes it over.  Sometimes a good title is enough, but most readers will be drawn to the cover.  

I’m a writer. That’s the limit of my artistic talent. While I usually have an idea of what I’d like for the cover of my books, I don’t create them on my own. Someone else does that for me. I tell the artist what I want, and he makes it happen.

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a new four book contemporary romance series.  The first book, This Time, is currently in the process of being edited and will soon be ready for release. With the release of the novel so near, I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to see on its cover. Since the female protagonist is a plus sized woman, I wanted to a feature a full figured woman in the arms of a muscled man.

With my vision decided, I set out in search of a picture that would suit my needs. In this day and age a number of websites offer royalty free photos for little to no money. That means writers are free to use the photos for their stories without having to break the bank in paying a graphic artist or photographers and live models. The only downside to this is that any writer can use any of these pictures for their cover art, which means you’re likely to see the same cover on different books.

Since setting out on this search a week ago, I’m dismayed to say I’ve come up empty handed so far. I can find plenty of pictures of beautiful plus sized woman by themselves. There’s no shortage of pictures of gorgeous guys with rippling muscles and dazzling smiles. I just can’t find any pictures of these individuals being part of the same couple. In fact, I have yet to find any pictures of plus sized woman who are paired with physically fit, great looking guys. Most of the pictures of couples that I have found are of the impossibly beautiful and quite possibly air brushed.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am. My female protagonist is a size eighteen and I want to show her off on my cover. I don’t want to have to hide her like I’m as ashamed of her as society seems to be of plus sized women. In this character, I’ve created someone that I believe is relatable and likable and realistic and I want that character showcased on my cover.

Not everyone feels the same way. I get it, but you know what I think? I think that more people are going to embrace this voluptuous woman with her drive and determination and are going to be more interested in her voracious sexual appetite than finding out what she had for dinner.

So, the search for the right cover art continues. I’m not giving up without a fight. I don’t think it’s so far fetched that a good-looking, physically fit man would fall for a full figured woman. I daresay it’s more common than we think, and I want to celebrate that damn it! It can’t be impossible to find what I want. Can it?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Moral Rights Debate

I know I’ve already said this before, but I think it bears repeating. After some serious soul searching, I made the decision to change both my outlook on and approach to my writing career.  I’m writing what I want, the way I want, for the readers who have already made it clear they like my style and my characters. Since making up my mind, I’ve never been happier.  I’ve rediscovered the joy of writing and am working harder than ever to produce the most polished product I can offer to my readers.

Though I never thought I was the only writer to make such a decision, I’ve recently found evidence other writers feel the same way I do which is not nearly as interesting as something else I stumbled across.  There are some writers who not only don’t seem to put a premium on their work but apparently feel scorn for those of us who do. And this isn’t something I’m theorizing about. It’s something I’ve witnessed firsthand in online writer’s forums.

While trolling one of my favorite forums last week, I came across a post from a long time writer in her mid-fifties who chose to withdraw from a rather prominent writing contest because she didn’t want to lose the moral rights to her story. Giving up those rights was one of the conditions of accepting the prize of publication. There are three basic components of moral rights: the right to have the author’s name attached to the work and not removed without her permission, the right to release that work anonymously if the author doesn’t want to be named and perhaps the most important of all is the right to maintain the integrity of the work. In other words, nothing is changed without the approval of the author. When the author in question found out the contest she had entered would expect her to give up her moral rights, she withdrew.   The author decided not to risk having her work changed beyond a point that she could live with and further decided she was happy continuing to self-publish.

The author’s decision to withdraw sparked a controversial debate in our forum. Some writers rallied behind her, with me being one of them. Some writers felt she was being too egotistical and that her refusal to relinquish those rights was as good as saying she was above being edited. Still other writers, the ones that disturbed me the most, felt she was making a mistake by missing out on her chance for mainstream publication. Those writers didn’t care how many changes were made to their work as long as they were awarded the prize money. In some circles, they’d be called sellouts.

The fact that one author’s decision inspired such a heated debate really had me scratching my head.  Quite frankly, who cares if she withdrew and what the reasons were? It’s her work and her right to manage it as she sees fit. To verbally attack her for doing so is both pointless and rude.  The author made a decision that she could live with and I for one commend her for it. 

The moral rights debate will always rage on, but at the end of the day, we all have to make choices we can live with. That author made hers. I’ve made mine, and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Power of the Freebie

It seems like ages ago that I was so opposed to the electronic reading device. I considered myself a purist, whatever that means, and couldn’t imagine reading a book that wasn’t made with paper. I’d seen my friends with their e-readers and the devices seemed inconvenient to me.  What if I wanted to go back several pages and check something in the story? That didn’t seem as easy to do with the e-reader.

As a writer first starting out, I was just as opposed to having my stories published electronically as I was reading e-books. Of course, e-books were still an innovation of the future when I started out.  Most books were still being published in the traditional format and I balked at the idea of not having an actual book that readers could buy. Then one day, I blinked and e-books became not just a reality but ubiquitous. Some writers don’t even release paper books anymore. They go straight for the e-book.

I finally did break down and join the e-book age. Initially, I didn’t “buy” books on my e-reader. Call it a last ditch effort at rebellion or call me cheap, but in my early days of e-reading device ownership I only downloaded books that were free. Early on, I made a rather important discovery about these freebies. They were often the first books in a series. Clever writers looking to establish a following offered the first book for free. Hooked readers would be compelled to buy the next books, giving authors not only a wider audience but more money in their pockets.

I wasn’t immune from this strategy. In fact, I’ve discovered two of my favorite authors as the result of reading a free e-book. On the strength of the free books alone, I promptly downloaded and paid for every other book these writers have produced thus far.  I also regularly peruse the bookstore to see if they’ve released anything new.

Now, I will say the free e-book sometimes has the opposite effect with me. I download a book intrigued by either the title or summary or both only to be disappointed by the story. That disappointment deters me from buying additional titles from that author and ultimately saves me both grief and money.

Having recently decided to write on my terms, I’m likely going to be releasing my books only in an electronic format which I find somewhat ironic. Irony aside, I’m now debating whether or not to release my next book as a freebie or offer it at a low enough price to attract potential readers. Whatever I decide, I sure hope it nets me more fans than it costs me!