Thursday, August 27, 2009

Under the Covers

Today’s guest author is Enid Wilson. Her latest book is Bargain with the Devil. Enid takes Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, twists it by asking, What If?, and comes up with a saucy short book you can read while sipping a glass of wine. And one of you can win a copy just by leaving a comment here today. I’ll tell you more about that and other ways and things to win later. First, let me tell you a bit about Enid.

You can visit her website to find out more about her blog tour, as well as snippets from Bargain with the Devil. She has a PG room and a NC-17 room, take your pick. Plus, she, of course, blogs (when she’s not off globe-trotting!). In addition to Bargain with the Devil, Enid is the author of In Quest of Theta Magic. She writes sexy and erotic romance, both modern, historical, paranormal or science fiction. And today, she’s here to talk about creating the cover of her latest, Bargain with the Devil.

Welcome Enid!

The Hunt of Steamy Darcy

One of the perks of self-publishing is you get to decide on the book cover design yourself.

When I published my first sexy paranormal romance In Quest of Theta Magic which was originally written as a Pride and Prejudice fantasy, I made the mistake of trying to design the cover myself.

I used a picture I took myself. It came out mystical enough to symbolize the fantasy world I created for the novel but didn’t represent the story at all.

Unhappy with it two weeks after its release, I talked to other self published authors and they told me they sourced photographs from online stock photo libraries such as istockphoto, fotolia, shutterstock, 123RF, bigstockphoto. The fee is reasonable, around US$30 for a high resolution photo, if your book is sold for less than 250,000 copies. (haha, I wish it could sell for more than that!)

I then talked to my readers in chat rooms. They, both men and women, all agreed that for a sexy romance about love, it must feature Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet together on the cover. Here is the final book cover of Theta Magic. The sales after the change of book cover were unbelievable. Seven months after its publication, I still have sales every month. Of course, several four to five stars reviews of the book help too.

When I decided to publish my second novel Bargain with the Devil: A spicy retelling of Pride and Prejudice, I was aware that the search for a lovely Darcy and Lizzy was very important.

But to get an ancient painting for the cover was very expensive. One online site which stocks ancient paintings charges US$3,000 for a five year copyright. Of course it was way beyond my budget.

I talked to an illustrator, Zuki, and she suggested I found a modern stock photograph and she could turn it into an ancient illustration for me.

So I asked the readers again. The scene they most remembered from my story which had been published for free in serial format before was with a drunken Mr. Darcy at a fisherman hut.

Elizabeth and he disguised as labourers to search for Lydia. Mr. Darcy got drunk and did some funny and naughty things to Lizzy. Readers still remember that scene even if they read it nearly a year ago.

Zuki suggested this photo as it was taken far enough to include some background detail and the bed. However during the illustration process, it was apparent that by changing it into a fisherman hut, the colour would not be as striking as turning it into a rich setting with elegant patterns on the bed sheet and rich drapes in the bedroom.

It suited another scene in my story very well: Lizzy was under the influence of witchcraft and spent a night of steamy encounter with Mr. Darcy at Pemberley.

The illustration was then turned into the present book cover by Susan.

I absolutely love the cover. Susan and Zuki’s fees were affordable.

Most readers love the cover too, except one. She told me she wanted her Mr. Darcy OLDER!

Well, the search for a steamy Mr. Darcy is never complete and that’s the fun of it.

***

Thank you Enid! I swear, I am totally amazed by what you accomplished in creating such a beautiful cover.

Okay, I said I’d tell you more about Enid’s wonderful giveaways. I have an extra copy (surely you didn’t think I’d give up mine) of Bargain with the Devil. Leave a comment here to have your name put in the drawing (be sure there’s a link back so I can let you know that you won). On Saturday, I’ll put all names on the floor atop a doggie treat and let my miniature Schnauzer, Ruffles, choose the winner (the winner is whoever's name doesn't get torn to pieces).

To have your name put in the drawing for one of two prizes Enid is giving away on her blog, just go there and leave her a comment today. She’s giving away a necklace and some really nice coasters. (I may arm wrestle you for the coasters.)

Again, thank you Enid for stopping by to talk about how you designed the cover for Bargain with the Devil. And thank all of you in advance for commenting or asking Enid questions. And remember to enter for all the giveaways. She’s going to be suspicious if all the entries link back to me.
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26 comments:

  1. love the coasters. I think I know those little dudes. They come from where I live :)

    I also love the book cover. Interesting process. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Yup, the process for selecting and creating the cover was great. I never thought stock photos were so affordable.

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  3. The cover is amazing. I had no idea what a process it could be but you handled it beautifully.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  4. Another wonderful post, Helen. Oh, please ask Ruffles to be gentle with the slip that has my name on it, will you? Does he accept bribes?

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  5. It must be such a joy to participate in creating the cover.
    That second cover is excellent.

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  6. Wonderful that you got the cover you wanted! And a clever way to do it, too.

    L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”
    www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com

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  7. I agree on the perk of being able to create your own cover when self-pub'ing. I was fortunate when I got my first contract with a small traditional pub to be able to have lots of say in the cover also. My son is a graphic artist and he did the hand sketch they used as the basis for the cover of Owen Fiddler.

    Good guest post, Enid - you're having a fine tour and I can vouch for the book - a couple of the best hours of literary entertainment I've had in quite a while.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  8. Congratulations, Enid. I had a good time working on the cover for my self-published book as well. Glad yours worked out so well. It's wonderful.
    Karen Walker

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  9. Laura, you come anywhere near Ruffles with a dog treat and she's your BFF forever, or until the treat is gobbled up.

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  10. Book covers are a potential reader's first impression. Favourable impressions lead to picking up the book to read the back cover or the inside flap - and you're half way to a sale. Find the cover that appeals to YOUR readers and you've won. Well done, Enid.

    Elspeth

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  11. Fascinating and just in time, tomorrow I have a post at my blog about new book-y trends and I've linked to this post to help people come up with covers for their self-pubbed books. Very interesting, thanks for telling us about it Enid.

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  12. That was fascinating. I'd really not thought much about covers. Seeing how you chose, and what you did with the picture - I like it. Thanks.

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  13. Fascinating process about the cover--and interesting to know the author has so much input in the process--I'd find that hard!

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  14. I'm with you Conda. I would find it difficult and intimidating to create a book cover!

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  15. Thanks Tabitha, Anton, Elizabeth, Laura, Lori, Diane, Marvin, Karen, Elspeth, Lauri, Sheila, Conda for the comments. Yes, there are thousands of photos in stock photo libraries. Sometimes you may get so distracted that you spend more time browsing them than working on the book.

    But without Zuki turning the modern photo to Regency setting, the book cover would not be as attractive. Thanks Lauri for linking the post. Helen, thanks for hosting me and assigning Ruffles as the judge.

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  16. Hellooooo Enid. I will tell Ruffles you said hi. She crashed after eating her dinner.

    Thank you for such a great post.

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  17. I'd never thought much about how complicated the book cover selection could be in self-publishing. Fascinating to read how you did it, Enid. Thanks! And thanks to Helen for hosting you today.

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  18. Ruffles must have eaten some very good food to crash after dinner.

    Thanks Pat for the comment. It was fun to design the book cover.

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  19. Nice job on the cover Enid. Thanks for sharing the creative process, too. It never occured to me to modify the stock photos. Now I have some great ideas for the next Eva Baum novel.

    Char

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  20. It all sounds scary complicated to me!

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  21. Enid, I MUST share your book with my sister in law. She is RABID about anything Jane Austen, and goes crazy with anything close to Pride & Prejudice.

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  22. Hi Char, have fun with checking out the stock photos. Sylvia hope your sister in law like it.

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  23. Thanks a million, Enid, for sharing your self-publishing experience and tips about the cover. In the nick of time! Might just forego sending my novel off to any more agents and go the self publishing route myself!
    Any tips about ISBNs and how to link sales to your blogsite?

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  24. Afric, Enid probably has ideas, but I don't know if she'll be back to check comments. You might want to go over to The Blood-Red Pencil blog. Author Morgan Mandel just did a week-long series on self-publishing and I think she talked about ISBNs on one of the days. The link to that blog is: http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/

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  25. Hi Afric, sorry for the late reply. I'm just back from holiday. As I'm australian, the way I obtained ISBN will be different from yours. I think you can check with your ISBN authority for detail. And I post free short stories at my website so they do attract readers to revisit and learn about news of the book. Do check out Helen's suggestions and maybe join the BBTCafe yahoo group. It is a group for authors who want to organise virtual book tour and people are very friendly and there are informative tips available.

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