Organized to Death is my third published novel. My first one was put out by a small press that gave me a contract for three novels. They published Sara’s Search on time and with a cover I loved. When the month of June came around to publish the second novel, though, it didn’t happen. Several months went by. Promises were made to publish it in October. It had a cover (I didn’t love it as much as the first one, though), it had been edited, and the galleys had been proofed. Christmas came and went, and all of January. I found out that several other writers with the same publisher were having the same problems. Royalty checks stopped. The publisher no longer answered phone calls or emails. We all became quite concerned. And unfortunately, as a group, we decided to pull our books and ask for the rights back to those already published. Of course, the publisher’s reputation was ruined, and we all left, sadder but wiser. Some writers went with other small presses, and several had bad luck with them, as well. I wrote some more novels. I sent them to NY agents. Nothing happened. I was reluctant to try another small publisher. (Another one, WriteWay, had shown interest in another of my books before I placed Sara’s Search , but they went bankrupt before any contracts were signed, so I was leery—authors there, as far as I know, never got their rights back.) By this time I had the one published novel and over fifty short stories as publication credits. Didn’t matter.
Then something unexpected happened. Ebooks, thanks to Amazon, started to become popular. Writers who had no luck with NY publishing decided to strike out on their own and get their books up for ebook readers. This was not too difficult to do. I watched and waited. I saw that some readers were unhappy with the books coming out because they were poorly written, had glaring spelling and grammar mistakes, and were badly formatted. I also noticed that many of the covers did not look very professional, and many were too dark to be able to read the title and/or authors’ names on the tiny thumbnails used on-line. So I decided to hire a professional cover artist, and between us, this is what we came up with:I still like it. Next, the authors I read about who were successful hired professional editors and proofreaders to go over their manuscripts. And finally, if they couldn’t do a good job themselves, they hired yet a third person to format the work for them.
This is what I did with all three of my novels. Sara’s Search, of course, already had a graphic designer, Clint Gage, do the cover (and I got the rights for that, as well) and an editor pointed out everything that needed fixing. For Revelations, I hired Anne Victory to do the editing, and Derek Murphy to do the cover (he also did the cover for Warning Signs, my short story collection). I admit to formatting all three of those books myself (no need for an editor for the short story collection—they’d already been published, so edited). For Organized to Death, I again used Anne and Derek and because there are so many different sized Kindles out there now, decided to use a professional formatter, Jason Anderson who did a great job on both the ebook and print formatting. I will be using all three again, if they’re available, for my next books—hopefully three more next year.
Someday I may change the cover for Sara’s Search because it’s too dark to show up well in a thumbnail. I also want a new paperback version, so that would need to have a back cover.
And that’s it so far. I’m open to questions, and if they’d take a long-enough answer, that could become another blog post. So, ask away.
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