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ND Author Services

Since the day Gutenberg pulled the first sheet off his press, we’ve been told “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and for just about as long, we’ve done precisely that. It isn’t fair, but we do judge books by their cover and now, with the Big-Bang-like expansion of the self-published sub-industry, we probably do it even more.

For self-published authors, cover art is a morass of high cost and low quality. If you’re lucky enough to be an expert photo-manipulator, you may be able to create a decent cover, but even so, the costs of stock images and the complexity of rights and royalty limitations can be daunting.

I’ve created covers for some of my own titles. I’ve negotiated with photographers, fussed with fonts, and tried to apply the wisdom I’ve gleaned from those who do it for a living. I’ve had varying levels of success (the art for Unraveling Time and Cryptogenesis are probably my best), but I’ve never truly been satisfied. Still, whenever I’ve looked into contracting a graphic artist to create a cover, the prices have been out of my range, especially for shorter works which don’t have as high an earnings potential.

Enter ND Author Services.

ND Author Services (NDAS) is the publishing arm of the Hendee writing empire. The Hendees, Barb and J.C., are the authors of the best-selling Noble Dead Saga and other great series, and I’ve sent you over to NDAS before, to learn from some of their excellent articles on the business side of writing.

What most people don’t know is that J.C. Hendee is the talent behind most of their short-form covers. While all their long-form work is published by major houses, they self-publish all their shorter tie-in works, and J.C. crafts the covers. A while ago, I had the opportunity to look over J.C.’s shoulder and study how he builds layer upon layer of graphic elements to create his unquestionably high-quality covers. At the time, I could only dream of having cover art that good.

Now, however, we can all benefit from J.C.’s graphical talents, and you won’t believe how affordable it is.

NDAS began offering “pre-made” covers last year, and they now have an impressive gallery of artwork available for licensing. There are dozens and dozens of high-quality cover art on display, all organized into genre-specific categories. Select the artwork you want, and NDAS will customize it for your title, name, and other specifics. Then they’ll reserve that artwork for a year, so other authors can’t use the same piece.

You can license the work for e-book, print, or both, and here’s the kicker: the price for these is $30, $75, and $85, respectively.

Yes. You can get quality cover art for your electronic and printed book, both for only $85.

I know I sound like a shill, but anyone who has looked into hiring a cover artist knows that this is an incredibly low price, especially if you consider the quality of the work. I’ve paid more than that just to get the rights to a single photo to use in my covers.

Don’t see that perfect fit your title? No worries. NDAS offers services to create custom cover work, as well.

Trust me on this: if you are part of the self-publishing world, you really need to check this out. It may very well be the only cover art resource you need.

k

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Coffee and NewspaperWhen I visited my school guidance counselor to discuss my future careers, the term “creativity scientist” never came up. Then again, neither did “musician” or “novelist” or even “computer programmer,” all of which I have used to describe various aspects of my “career.”

But “creativity scientist?” Wow, that sounds like a good gig. Of course, “zookeeper” sounds great, too, until you realize that it’s mostly shoveling poop. Come to think of it, “shoveling poop” describes every single job I’ve ever had, to one degree or another. Sometimes it’s my poop. Most times it’s someone else’s. No matter what, it’s poop. Everyone shovels poop.

Anyway…Jefferson Smith, who runs the Creativity Hacker website and blog, obviously attended a different school district than I did. He is a creativity scientist and novelist, and he’s got some interesting ideas and thoughts on all things creative, and especially about creative writing.

One of his ideas is his “Immerse or Die” program: Take a book, get on the treadmill, and see how long the author keeps the reader immersed in the world of the novel. (more…)

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Over on Facebook, a reader mentioned a scene in FC:1 that she really liked. I like to investigate this sort of specific feedback–the good and the bad–to see what worked and what didn’t work for my readers.

I remembered the scene she mentioned in general, but not in detail. The main reason I wanted to investigate, though, was that her description of it as dialogue-free was not my recollection; I remembered it as being chatty to the extreme, as two swoony teenaged girls prattled on about how divine it was going to be to see Sarah Bernhardt on stage. (For those of you out of the 19th-century loop, Sarah Bernhardt was the Lady Gaga of her day.)

So, I pulled down my copy of The Year the Cloud Fell and tried to figure out what this reader had meant when she referred to the scene’s “shared communication and not a scrap of dialogue.

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Salal RainIt’s Blogging 101: Thou shalt recap the year.

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The Revitalization of EmilyWe are live. “The Revitalization of Emily” is live on Amazon, and available for Kindle readers and apps.

Formatting went well, but there’s one new lesson I learned. Fonts that work well on the printed page are often too big for the Kindles. I had a couple of iterations before the headers worked properly.

Overall, though, an easy process.

Some people wonder why I do this on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) instead of iBooks or Smashwords or any of the several other venues open to short fiction works. They also wonder why I don’t put it up everywhere, simultaneously.

The main reason is one word: reach. (more…)

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The Revitalization of EmilyI spent the weekend doing two things: trying to relax, and editing the novelette.

I succeeded in the latter.

Editing went well, both on the story and on the cover art.

Each editing pass revealed fewer errors–reaching zero by the fourth pass–and fewer lines that gave me pause. Eventually, in editing, I like to get to the point where for each possible change, I have to think, play it two or three ways, and then end up with a STET in the margin.

My last pass, I also took special note of the “said” use. They’re still there (despite my earlier efforts), but now each one that is in the story has been considered. If it’s there, I want it there, and I’m happy with that. (more…)

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Stack of BooksAmazon wants to sell your used ebooks.

Yep, it’s true. Amazon wants to sell your used e-books, and a lot of people are really, really upset by it. “It’ll ruin author’s livelihoods,” some say, and “It’ll destroy the publishing industry” say others.

BTFU.

Before we all go running through the streets with our hair on fire, let’s think about it for a second.

Amazon wants to sell you an e-book for your Kindle and then, once you’ve read it (or not), give you the option to sell it back to them so they can re-sell it to someone else. This allows them to sell it without paying anything to the publisher (and thus, the author), just as if it was a physical book…

Hey…wait a minute…

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