On Covers and Adjusting When It’s Just Not Working

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You might not know this, but I agonize over my book covers. When you have one shot to entice someone to grab your book off the virtual shelf, first impressions are everything. I am the first one to admit that I’ve gotten it wrong. Like, a lot. If your book isn’t immediately screaming your genre and what to expect to your potential readers, it’s the first thing you HAVE to change. If you are getting it wrong, you’re missing the boat.

Do not wait. Do not pass go. Change it as soon as you are able.

Because I know that lots of people love the old cover/new cover comparisons. I thought I’d go back over the last two years of my self-publishing journey and share a few of mine with you. As evidenced below, you’ll see that I’ve never backed away from changing a cover if it just wasn’t working (at least eventually).

I’d also like to preface this by saying that I’ve enjoyed working with every cover designer I’ve ever had and changing the cover in no way reflects on their work.

Believe me- it’s all me. 🙂

Edge of Shadows

Have you been hanging around with me since the beginning? If so, you might remember the original cover to my very first book, Edge of Shadows. To me, it had an old-timey wallpaper kind of feel to it that represented something you could see in the old, haunted Bradford mansion. Although I did have early success with it, once I changed it over to the current cover when I released the second book in the series, Shadows Deep, I noticed an immediate uptick in sales. It definitely says “ghost story” now with that creepy face over the stairs, don’t you think?

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The Soul Ripper (aka The Soul Garden)

Struggle, struggle, struggle. Toil and trouble. I have had nothing but heartburn branding the Twisted Souls series since the beginning. It is such an unusual story. Yes, it has zombies in it, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about good triumphing over evil and about finding out that when destiny calls, you have to answer whether you want to or not. The end was especially bittersweet for that reason.

But it all began at the base of the Fountain of Souls inside The Soul Garden. I thought the original cover was so cool and symbolic, but ultimately it really didn’t convey “sci-fi dystopian”. I liked the second cover with the bony hand and the grave, but it was a pre-made that was supposed to be nothing more than a placeholder for a few months. I just changed it again two months ago when I changed the title- and I can say with almost certainty that this will not be the last cover. Now that the series is complete, I think I can wrap my head around branding it in its forever covers.

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(Original)

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(2nd cover)

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(Current cover)

 

 

 

Heiress of Lies

It’s funny how the books that you expect to be the easiest to design end up being so difficult. I mean, YA paranormal is pretty set in what readers expect to see on the front cover. The pretty girl in the pretty dress with some kind of spooky background is something you can’t get away from. I started out in that vein, so it seems counterintuitive that Heiress of Lies has had the most covers changes of any of my books- and yet is has.

Well, fourth times the charm. I felt so good  and certain that I had finally hit on this series “forever covers” that I even moved forward with converting this series into paperback.

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(Original cover)

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(2nd cover)

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(3rd cover)

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FINAL!!

So what do you think about all of my cover swaps? How much does the cover affect your decision to pick up a book? Sound off in the comments below!

(Header Photo credit Zach Klein)

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No Tricks, Only Treats! A $0.99 Monster Fest Sale

Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE Halloween? It’s my favorite holiday (aside from my birthday- lol). As I’m gearing up for my virtual haunted house tour, I decided that I wanted to sweeten the deal just a bit for those who are going to travel along with me.

So here’s what I’m doing. Three of my books will be $0.99 from October 20th-October 31st: Heiress of Lies (Bloodtruth #1), Ageless and The Soul Garden (Twisted Souls #1). You get to choose your monster: vampires (Heiress of Lies or Ageless- each with its own unique twist) or zombies (The Soul Garden).

I hope you are as excited to kick off the virtual haunted house tour as I am. Chills and thrills guaranteed. 🙂  Check back tomorrow for the official tour schedule!

Happy Haunting.

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It’s Alive!! The Twisted Souls Series Continues…

There is nothing quite like hitting the “Publish” button on a new book. I got to experience that for the fifth time in my writing career last night when I uploaded Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2) to Amazon last night.

This second installment of the Twisted Souls series catches up with Cameron, Samuel, Malcom, Bishop, and yes, even Marius and Chim, nine months after the events in The Soul Garden. You may remember that Marius and Chim were wreaking havoc in the Office of Souls compound creating a horde of soulless ones (aka zombies!).  Well, at the point where this story picks up again, there are a whole lot more soulless ones out there. That’s not good for our heroes.

My goal with this series was always to write a zombie tale with completely new mythology on the origin of how zombies are created. There are some vague sci-fi elements here (a dystopian society, it’s set in the future, etc.) but I really wanted to create some complex characters who are forced to deal with some pretty scary stuff while fighting for what they ultimately believe in and are willing to die for. I don’t go for blood and guts (although there are some) because I like to play with the things that you DON’T see that can still get you. 🙂

I’m thrilled to share this next part of the story with you, and I can’t wait to hear what you think, so leave me a comment, shoot me an email (cege@cegesmith), or stop by my Facebook page.

Happy Reading!

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A Peek Behind the Curtain

As I was wrapping up my month long blog tour for Shadows Deep, I realized something that made me really queasy. I hadn’t written anything but guest blog posts for more than a month.

Now for anyone who has been waiting for the next books in the Twisted Souls or Bloodtruth series, that probably sounds like a harbinger of doom. I have been planning all along to release those books this summer, and this blog tour has, well, put me a little bit behind.

Something else happened along the way as well. I had a whole new set of characters start bending my ear about their story. Ugh- the things that writers go through! So earlier this week, right after I finished the last guest post, I did the only thing I could do.

I dove in with both feet and started to write. On two different novels.

The picture at the top of this post is my writing desk. (I did clean it up for you. :)) On my iPad, I’ve got the running draft for Ageless, which is going to be a new standalone novel about a girl who finds out her obsession with a historical myth is actually her future reality.

On my Mac, I have the running draft for Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #1). There I am catching up with the four survivors of Soul Implantation 3675, and things are getting creepier and more dangerous for them by the minute.  The notepad on the far right? That’s the outline of the first scene for Angeline’s Quest, which is the sequel to Heiress of Lies and the second installment in the Bloodtruth series.

Yes, I’m that crazy. But once the words start following, it is really hard to stop them so I’m just pounding the keys like crazy and enjoying the ride. The upside of all of this? I expect to have all three novels out by the end of August, and that means… I’m right on schedule. (Hooray!)

My goal is to be able to announce launch dates within the next two weeks. A lot of things depend on my editor’s schedule and I also will be working on the cover art. Thank you to everyone for being patient so far, and I can’t wait to share these adventures with you!

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The Soul Garden Is Now Available!

I’m learning a lot about how to balance my writing/production time with all of the regular things that happen in life.  I do hold a “day job” currently, and so all of tasks and activities that go along with being an author (writing, reading, promoting) happens during my off-time, which not so long ago was “personal” time.  I’ll write more later about my lessons learned and how I’m adapting, but needless to say all of the holiday fanfare messed with my anticipated release date for The Soul Garden.  I wanted to release this on Dec. 17th, and instead it went live late last night (9 days late).

I can’t beat myself up too much though because it’s out there now and frankly I think it’s awesome. Here’s the description:

“There was Before and then there was Now. Do not grieve the loss of Before. It was a wicked time when people turned away from the Light, and for their sins they were punished. Rejoice in the Light and Rejoice in the Now for it is your salvation.”—A History of the Territory of Malm, Authorized Version

As punishment for mankind’s horrible deeds in Before, infants in the Territory of Malm are born soulless. These infants are safeguarded from society until the day of their soul implantation, when they are ensouled and finally become completely human.

The Territory of Malm has been ruled by the Office of Souls under the watchful eye of the Head Master for over one hundred years. While the territory has grown and prospered, some Residents have started to chafe under the carefully controlled procedures that govern every aspect of a Resident’s life, including procreation. But they have little choice; there are only a limited amount of souls available, and the Office of Souls controls soul distribution.

Soul Implantation Day 3675 starts out like any other day, but follows the paths of five different people who are destined to meet in the courtyard of the Fountain of Souls to witness a soul implantation ceremony that goes terribly awry and the beginning of an epic struggle between good and evil.

The Soul Garden is the Prequel to the upcoming Twisted Souls series.

You can download The Soul Garden for FREE right now from Smashwords.  If you’ve never visited Smashwords before, you have the option to download different file versions so you can view the book on your PC, on your Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, iPad, iPhone, etc.  It will be available shortly on Amazon, but until Amazon figures out the price match, it’s $0.99 there.

As always, if you do download one of my books and enjoy it, I would LOVE it if you would post a review of it from wherever you happened to download it (and you can be honest- I can take it!).

Happy Reading!

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