I still seem to have trouble writing books which are easy (for me) to describe. “What are your new books about?” If I could have expressed what I wanted to express in a few words, or a few hundred words, I probably wouldn’t have written 130k+ words to express it. I think writing a book which is easy to describe must be something a writer or author must set out to do before beginning; know before creating the book what the easy description is, then make sure you write a book which fits it. Alas, that is not how I write books.
I did manage to do a lot of things with my latest books to make them more commercially viable than a lot of my other books, though pre-blurbing them was not one. For example, when structuring the story, I made sure that the “kindle preview” (or first couple podcast episodes) was more of a “hook” than I normally do. In one of the books, I took an exciting sequence from the end of the story and moved it to the beginning, so the book starts (almost misleadingly) with tension, drama, and action, instead of just exposition. In both books, I crafted the first sentence, the first paragraph, and the first 2 chapters specifically as “hooks”. I’ve also been working on creating industry-standard book covers for the books, which tell you very little about what the book is, while looking like a lot of the other book covers out there, and maybe make you want to click through and get to those first paragraphs/chapters. (I’ll show you the covers in a moment.)
The blurb/descriptions, though, are my next big challenge, along with coming up with commercially viable main titles for each book. (I have a series title / subtitle for both books: Never Let the Right One Go, which I had before I even knew it would be two books. That title is almost the inspiration for the whole project, actually.) The titles need to be short and declarative or active, preferably one or two words, and memorable. The blurbs can be up to about 100 words, but as I keep saying, I’m not much good at that part. And the title is 50-100 times harder. I’m not sure what I’ll do.
Anyway, the following are the quick-and-dirty first-draft covers I put on the first-draft eBooks I sent out to my First Readers this weekend. Keep in mind, I’m just using the name of each book’s protagonist as the titles for this version, “Sophia” and “Emily”, so the books can be told apart in my First Readers’ descriptions/responses. Also, I’m not 100% satisfied with the font. But this is the sort of generic/commercial covers I’ve come up with, so far:
The image of “Emily” is adapted from a photograph by Danila Panfilov, and the image of “Sophia” is adapted from a photograph by Jesse Millan. I think they’re great photos, and represent the characters well enough, and while the versions I used here were available under a CC BY license, so I can (theoretically) use them commercially as long as I credit the photographers, I’m thinking I need to contact the photographers, and may have to pay considerable sums of money (which I don’t have, and the books probably won’t earn) to get high-resolution copies of the originals for a print edition, to get broader license to actually distribute the modified images (the covers) as covers (I can credit them inside the book, but what about every online bookseller the cover appears on? Do I need to add their photo credit to the blurb to satisfy the CC license?), or to get model releases for using these two young ladies’ likenesses on my books. My business model of selling the original artwork I create for a book’s cover in order to cover the costs of creating the print edition doesn’t work when, instead of painting the cover, I have to buy photographs; it reverses it, turning the cover from a source of income to an expense. Not sure how to reconcile that, yet.
So that’s where I’m at. The books are written, and now I’m into getting them ready for marketing/distribution. As I get feedback from my First Readers (let me know if you’d like to be a Beta Reader!), I’ll modify the text, but in the meantime I’m trying to figure out these frustrating, commercial, details.