Thursday, October 9, 2014

Writers Need Team Work

Just as a sport’s team needs to work as a team to win games so must a writer.  
With the completion of my sweet-Christian romance, Courtships and Carriages, I reflected on how those behind the scenes make a product successful. In other words, an author needs a good team, including an eye-appealing cover, excellent editors and a good story which keeps readers' interest and makes them turn pages.
It is important to have an eye-appealing cover like the one above for Courtships and Carriages. The book is released Oct. 17 in e-book with paperback to follow. 
However, it is not easy to get a good design which matches your novel. For one thing, you need the right photograph which tells your overall story. Mine says sweetness and romance, all fitting this story. But other genres would need different qualities, such as a horror book would include dark elements, denoting evil lurking in the shadows. 
At a glance, readers must be able to know what lies behind the cover. Currently, I am reading, Doctored Evidence. What is on its cover? A picture of a doctor’s stool and the type of bed you would find in his office or in an emergency room. As indy publishers or with certain traditional publishers, some authors can have input on their cover. But if the author is not allowed to give his/her input then the graphic designer, who never read the book, makes that determination.This could lead to disastrous results like a cover depicting a man wearing pajamas, but no scene contains anything of that sort. 
A good cover also should not contain more than three concepts. Otherwise, it becomes cluttered and leaves readers confused about what your story really is about. My Courtships and Carriages has three -- the girl, the basket and the yellow-wheeled carriage. Each of these are important to the storyline. 
If you are a self-published author, you need to hire a professional graphic designer or be proficient in that area. I met an author a couple of years ago who used his mother’s painting of their Alaskan cabin for the cover. It was terrible. After talking to the man during an author fair, I became intrigued with his family's experiences in Alaska, such as a bear peeking into their window when a certain television show was on air. So I bought his book, however, if I only had seen his cover I would never had purchased it. 
Also, you must line up a good team of editors. This is extremely important. I have readers who look over my manuscript and give me their take from a reader’s perspective. One reader is especially knowledgable about farm animals since she grew up on a farm. She also is a great resource for lanterns and cooking without electricity because she experienced these. She has caught several of my mistakes in this regard. 
However, I also have wonderful editors. They are a great team and they look for grammar and spelling errors, historical inaccuracies, if the story flows smoothly and how to improve the overall work. I am so grateful for them. If it was not for them, my work would not be the best it could be nor would people want to read it. 
A key, though, is to have a story which carries readers on an unbelievable journey. Last year I was heartsick when a special person told me I should make major changes to my story. I thought of all the work I had put into it and how now I would have to rewrite it. But she was right, it just was not going to work to make the villain in my Lockets and Lanterns into a good man in this novel. So I changed a lot of it and started a new series -- one where I now had the freedom to create characters I like. Thanks to her input my story flows and the characters shine. 
So line up a great team which may take time. But it will come and with that you will develop a team which works for you and produces the best product possible. God bless.