Indie Writer, Hat #2

When I started self-publishing, I had a few stories saved up. I had been writing for a few months, and shopping around a few of the stories to magazines and e-zines. I collected a bunch of rejections, and a few rejection-plus-please-send-mores. Which was encouraging, those last usually mean ‘I like your writing, but I have stories that fit my next few planned issues’ themes better’.

But it was slow. It’s not their fault. My understanding of the magazine and e-zine trade is that the folks evaluating submitted stories are buried to their eyeballs in freshly-submitted stories. There are a LOT of people writing and submitting stories. Some of them suck, some of them are good, some of them are amazing. To find out which is which, someone has to read them all.

I don’t like slow. I’m a hyperactive sort. If you let a diagnostic type get hold of me, I wouldn’t be surprised if they slapped a label like ‘ADD’ or ‘ADHD’ on me. I’m impatient. So I started self-publishing.

Interestingly enough, it was after I started publishing my own stories that someone accepted one of my stories, Carniphobe, and published it. It’s the April 2012 issue of Musa Publishing’s Penumbra ezine, if you’re curious.

But that’s not what I started out to write about, damn my wandering mind.

I started this to write about hat #2 that an indie writer like myself must wear. Hat #1 is writing, of course. But hat #2 is creating the covers. You know, those visual statements that people looking for a nice new ebook to read look at alongside ten or a hundred others see before they see anything else. Before they even read your blurb to see what it’s all about. Titles matter at least as much, but that’s hat #3 if I ever write that blog post. I’ve bought ebooks with ugly covers and attractive titles, but let me tell you: it takes a hell of a title to overcome an ugly cover.

Like anything else, making a decent cover takes practice. Visual arts are not my focus as a writer, the written word is. So I have gone through quite an evolutionary process in cover design.

After publishing my 40th title, I have started to look back and re-evaluate my earliest titles’ cover art. I have just finished redoing the cover for my 1st title, Who Wants To Be The Emperor.  It should be replacing the old cover at the various outlets that carry my ebooks (see them in the right sidebar over there?) over the next couple of weeks.

Let me show you exactly what I mean when I say my cover design skills have evolved. Guess which is the old cover I made a year and a half ago, and which is the one I made on the date of this blog entry.




Pretty much anything you do, it takes persistence, practice, and time to develop your skills.  Don’t assume… don’t EVER assume… that what you’re doing right now and the way you’re doing it is good enough.  There is ALWAYS room to improve your skills and your craft, no matter what it is.


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