Today’s question is: What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Does a cover image play a vital role in attracting a reader? Should it reflect the genre and characters in the story?
Have you changed a cover? If so why? Was the new cover more successful?
Please leave your replies in the comments. Thank you
Comments from last week question:
When your narrative is set in a real location do you research it or do you visit it?
What are the pros & cons of utilizing the internet to find out about a location versus actually staying there?
I once wrote a character who worked in a factory. I didn’t care what kind of factory, it just had to be a factory. My aunt worked in a meat packing plant, so I asked her if I could visit her at work. Not only did they let me visit, I got a tour and got to watch “the line” as they worked. It was fantastic. The story was “Poor David” and it’s in my collection, Things Withered! I’m telling you, visiting that plant was invaluable, and I’ll use the info again in some other piece, I’m certain. It’s always better to see and feel and hear a place.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing is an energy that lives within me and when I cannot do enough of my own creative work, it exhausts me. It sometimes becomes a vicious cycle of building up and letting go. It makes it all worth it in the end – it would just be nice to be in that place that would allow me to go evenly into that good write…
2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Although it’s a strength in my line of work as a publisher, time spent on others’ work is a weakness toward mine – it always comes second if there is a deadline for someone else.
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Nope. I guess I just figure if you are going to make something of your writing life, what good is it if no one knows it’s you? It would go against my belief of being true to who you really are, and, besides, I like my name. If I write something that I consider might be better under a secret identity, well… should I be writing it at all?
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I am so fortunate to have close friends who are authors and an encompassing community of acquaintances who are passionate about words. Everyone contributes to your writing journey in their own way and in different ways – we must be open to learning from our associations and relationships; bringing them closer when it works and letting them go when they don’t. Can’t drop big names here that you might have heard of, but you should know the people I do know – they are fantastic.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I like to be able to try everything and although I do have related books, like a novella series, I am not trying to connect everything by theme or genre. As long as it is a reflection of who I am and true to my creativity, then it is a part of me and what I am trying to say as an author.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Any of the retreats I have been on. It is nice to focus on your writing even for a weekend and having others around who respect why you are there is priceless. You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to be 5-star, but I’ve been on some nice trips: Humber College in Toronto for a summer writing week; Jasper or Hinton holed up in a nice hotel with a writing friend; Strawberry Creek with a group of writing friends spoiled by awesome meal service; and so on. All worthy.
7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? Early? Can’t think of one… Maybe when I talked back to my parents about going on a vacation with a friend when I was 18? Perhaps, when my daughter said her first words when I was 30? When I was asked to read one of my poems to a group during Volunteer Week when I was 50? When I accepted an award from my community for my contribution to Arts, Culture & Heritage when I was 55? Or when I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral that same year? Language has power in all its derivatives. It expresses emotion. It makes a stand. It says a lot about who we are and even who we were.
8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? If it was my favorite, then it was appreciated in some way. We all cannot expect to find appreciation by the masses.
9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I go under Wildhorse for many things including email, blog, twitter handle, etc. The wild horse is the epitome of strength and endurance with a wild and free spirit no matter what happens around them. The horse head logo I use is a drawing I did some time ago and, in 2005, I had it tattooed on my left shoulder. Just a little thing, but it means a lot to me.
10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Not too many unfinished as I managed to clean up a couple I had sitting for a few years. I guess I have about 3 or 4 books of poetry waiting to be put together in some nice way, but that will be ongoing. Definitely unfinished and on the to-do list.
11. What does literary success look like to you? Many equate success with monetary outcome. I equate success with being a leader, a good friend, and a creative mentor. Seeing others succeed along your own journey is not only inspiring – it feels right – and moving forward together is success to me.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I like to make sure details in my work are factual and have some basis in reality. But that really depends on the work. Articles require more research than fictional short stories and poetry; my novels require a ton of research especially if they are set in another time / era, or a foreign country.
13. How many hours a day/week do you write? I cannot put a time on it as I could put in 10 minutes one day and 10 hours another. I write for work for a good portion of my job, so it is possible to write many hours a week although it’s not really creative in the same way we write our fiction. It allows me to stay connected and my pen stays fluid.
14. How do you select the names of your characters? I base it on the story and when it takes place – names are important and have to fit the character, as well as, the time and place of the story. I have researched names and selected them based on what they mean in the country of origin. My novella series is set in Turkey and I used the meaning of names to set them apart. They may be used in other work; they may not be popular; they may sound odd. It is whatever works for my character and my story.
15. What was your hardest scene to write? Not sure any were hard to write. This question could mean hard as in difficult, or hard as in gut-wrenching or tear-jerking or taboo. I guess when it comes to the latter, I don’t write scenes that put me in this dilemma. The former is just based on time and effort; learning how to put something across in the best way possible.
16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? There are certain books or short stories or poetry I have written because of the theme or topic or setting. For example, I love Shakespeare so writing a book with a series of poetry simulating the sonnets just fits and An Elizabethan Affair was a long process of fused research and imagination. I like to try all types of writing – if the idea is there and the time is right, I work on whatever the project involves: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s or young adult stories, blog posts, government or industry papers, or merely content for newsletters and web sites. It depends on what’s needed.
17. How long have you been writing? For many years, but seriously focused on funneling all my efforts in the creative writing direction in 2000. I have collections of poetry from the 1980s. I wrote and designed advertising many years for several employers. It’s always been a goal of mine to write a novel. I wrote short verses when I was in elementary school; I wrote longer descriptive short stories in my teens.
18. What inspires you? A word. A feeling. Nature. Sunshine. My love for creativity. My inner muse. My best friend. My daughter. Memories of my mother and father.
19. How do you find or make time to write? There is always time to do it if you put your mind to it… oh, how poetic :O But, really, you just have to make time if you want to write something. I do make notes and write on scraps of paper or in my notebook. I actually have taken time to sit and write during one of my many solitude-seeking drives to Elk Island Park this summer – I think I have a couple of poems out of that effort. You just make the time.
20. What projects are you working on at the present? At the time this gets posted, I have come off two months of intense concentration on a number of books (12?) being released at a month-end event for authors I publish under my company banner. I am contemplating participating in National Novel Writing Month in November so that will focus at least 50K words on something of my own – I still have to determine what. I have many projects that could be pulled from the archives including several volumes on poetry I have written over the years and a collection of short stories, also written over the past few years.
21. What do your plans for future projects include? I am thinking of writing a sequel to my novella series set in Turkey and changing it from the young adult genre to adult fiction for the follow-up story. The characters age from their teens in the first 3 books, so I can see a definite growth in their story and maturity in the sequel. I would also like to write another story with the old English / Elizabethan / Shakespeare theme – 1590-1600ish.
Linda writes from her heart and shares words on the page in order to connect with others who have similar stories to share. A lifetime of poetry and other writing has culminated in a collection of published works, including: An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle, A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth, and A Journey of Desires (3 book novella series), co-writer of Your Lifetime of Stories workbook for the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and others. She set up her own publishing company in 2010 to help authors live their dream of seeing their own work published. You can follow her on Twitter @wildhorse33 and find her on Facebook. She blogs – when she has time – at wildhorse33.wordpress.com
A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives aimed at young children with the pictures being prominent rather than the text, which is written with vocabulary a child can understand but not necessarily read. Therefore, picture books have two functions for children: firstly they are read to young children by adults, and then later children read them once they begin learning to read.
Well known children’s books include Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat, and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
Which was your childhood favorite?
From the mid-1960’s several children’s literature awards have included a category for picture books. However, some picture books are published with content aimed at older children or even adults. Tibet: Through the Red Box, by Peter Sis, is one example of a picture book aimed at an adult audience.
My first published book was a picture book, Rumble’s First Scare. Not because it was easier but rather the subject matter appealed as a unique children’s story. The POV of a monster coming from underground on All Hallow’s Eve to ‘scare’ the children. However, Rumble is much too cute to be really scary.
Do you write children’s books? Care to share in the comments?
The definition of a graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. However, the term is not strictly defined, though Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition is “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book”, while its simplest definition is given as “cartoon drawings that tell a story and are published as a book”
Obviously, some will say these are not ‘novels’ in the traditional sense at all. One such author, Alan Moore believed: “It’s a marketing term…that I never had any sympathy with. The term ‘comic’ does just as well for me…The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book’ and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel Comics – because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, they’d stick six issues under a glossy cover and called it graphic novel under the action hero’s name.
However, the term ‘graphic novel’ is broadly applied to include non-fiction, anthologized and fiction works and is distinguished from the term ‘comic book’, as this refers to comic periodicals.
Richard Kyle, a fan historian coined the term ‘graphic novel’ in 1964 and the term gained popularity in the comic community from 1978 and especially with the start of the Marvel graphic novel line in 1982. The book industry began using ‘graphic novel’ as a book shelf category in 2001. Most comics historians agree that the first real ‘graphic novel’ was Will Eisner’s A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories published in 1978. Decidedly adult in its images, themes, and language, Eisner’s book spoke to the generation that had first grown up with superhero comics in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
I found a fascinating link regarding the history of graphic novels. Take a look: http://libguides.marymede.vic.edu.au/graphic_novels/history
I do most of my writing in the morning, but after a shower. I get up just after 5 am and get an early start at the day. It energizes me, and gets my brain and body going. I find that by doing this, I can go to my day job and be extremely productive. If I’m on a push, or am doing NaNoWriMo (writing 50K words in a month) I’ll write right after work as well, before dinner. I am not a late-night writer.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I don’t get writers block. I have very specific projects, and for the most part they are outlined, at least as bullet points, with the tighter plot in my head. I made writing part of my daily routine last summer, and when you do that, you get trained to need that time. But if I have to choose something, I’ll say golfing. In the summer I love to go golfing once or twice a week, and that can end up taking out some desk time.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
My novels are all currently under my real name, but I do have a series coming out late this year that will be using a pen name. It’s a collaborative project, and it works out better that way.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve been lucky enough to make a really close-knit group of author friends that I talk to on a daily basis. Without them I wouldn’t be the same writer today. I also interact with a wide net of amazing indie science fiction authors. Being able to bounce ideas off them, whether its marketing or cover ideas is priceless. They are all virtual friends, but I’m heading to a 20bookstoVegas event this November where I’m going to meet a bunch of them.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’ve written two stand alone’s so far. Sleepy Grove is a supernatural thriller about a woman who works at a cemetery and see spirits. It was a great experience but I don’t think it will see the light of day. Red Creek is out May 18th, and is a hometown horror. It may be my best novel to date (according to me) and I had such a great time writing it.
That leads to what I’ve done with my Sci-Fi series, The Survivors. It starts with The Event, and so far it’s a three book series with the first two out, and book three out May 29th.
They say splitting genres isn’t ideal, but I have so many stories to tell, that I will break conventions to get them out there if necessary.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Covers and editing. A book needs professional editing, and when I was publishing my first Explorations anthology, I found the artist many of the top selling SF authors were using and had him custom make the cover. I’ve used him for nearly all of my Woodbridge books, and all 4 of my own novels. Tom Edwards is amazing!
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was a reader from a young age. My mom claims to have taught me to read when I was 3, and I loved to read. I remember winning the book award in grade one, which was basically a construction paper bird travelling around the room on a scale of books read. I still have little stories from grade 3-4 I wrote.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I read a lot of books, mostly fantasy and science fiction. I also have read a ton of indie stuff, so I could name far too many that are under-appreciated.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I’d be a duck. Calm on the surface, but flailing around under the water.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have Sleepy Grove sitting there, and me and my writing partner are working on a 3 book series to release this fall. Book one is done, and I’m currently writing book 2.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’ve never wanted to write that masterpiece high school students read in a hundred years. I want to write books people can enjoy, and move on to the next one. My first book only came out two months ago, and I still have a best-seller tag on Amazon, so I’ve already surpassed any life-time goals on that front.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Depends on the project. I use google maps a lot, and to be honest, I try to write what I know. You’ll see a lot of New York in my writing, and that’s because I’ve been there on vacation four times, and love the place. I find that life experience is the best research for writing you can find.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
I write almost every day of the week, and would say I spend at least 20 hours on book stuff a week. (Plus the time thinking about it…)
How do you select the names of your characters?
Some of the names are nuggets for people I know, and some are random. I try to fit a name with the vibe of the character or location. Not a lot of science to it for me.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’ve written some heavy scenes. The Event has a particularly emotional one. The main character’s wife died a few years before the book, and I have a few flashbacks of them together at the start of the book, which are relevant to the plot of the series. Here’s an excerpt:
Janine was in bed sleeping soundly when I stepped into the room. The hot soup cup was burning my hands, and I just stood there with the pain. I felt like I needed the distraction, like the burning would make my other pain go away somehow. Even though we were in our own house, the smell of the hospital still stuck in my nostrils, and I wasn’t sure if the chemical scent would ever be gone.
It was time, and Janine demanded to come home for the end. How could I deny that beautiful woman’s wishes when she was so small and frail, her life slipping away in hours and minutes instead of decades and years like someone her age should have left?
I put the soup down, sat at the foot of the bed, and just watched her breathe. The sounds lulled me, and I felt my own eyes getting droopy. I lay down and curled up beside my wife like I always did when we went to bed. Even if it was too warm, I needed to feel her body next to mine to fall asleep. I’d become dependent on her in so many ways, and I had no idea what I was going to do when she was gone. As I closed my eyes, I thought about dying and wondered if we would be together in some sort of afterlife if I ended my own life when she was gone. My last thoughts were of a bottle of whiskey and a vial of pills before sleep took over my exhausted body.
I woke to her touch. A soft kiss on my lips; her hair cascading down on my face. I cried and felt shame in my pain. She was the one dying and I was the one crying about it like a baby constantly. The worst part was, it seemed like she was okay with having a husband who couldn’t stop blubbering.
“Janny, I love you so much. I’m so sorry this happened,” I blurted between sobs.
She looked me in the eyes, and for the first time in weeks, I saw her own eyes well up. A single tear fell slowly and splashed on my cheek. It mingled with my own, and somehow, I felt better for it.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I love science fiction, and always have. It was natural for me to write there. I also have a long-time love of horror, and needed to write in that genre too. My main focus will be in Sci-fi now that I’ve found success there, but hope to still do some passion projects.
How long have you been writing?
I used to dabble, but really only for the last 4 years. I started to write, and the floodgates opened up inside me. There was no turning back.
What inspires you?
A lot of things. The outdoors, trees, green grass, the smell of autumn, the energy of a big city…so many things inspire my thought process, and I take them all and use it in my writing.
How do you find or make time to write?
Routine. I get up early to do it. No excuses.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m working on my final final final proof read of Red Creek, and about to send New World (Survivors book 3) to my formatter.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m going to be releasing a 3 book pen name series this fall, as well as book 4 of The Survivors. From there, I have many plans for 2019!
Share a link to your author website.
You can follow along at www.nathanhystad.com I haven’t been around it to blog much lately, but you can follow my newsletter from there, and see what I’m up to. I also run www.scifiexplorations.com with some friends where we promote the best indie authors and their deals and new releases. Follow along there for some amazing promotions.
Nathan Hystad is an author from outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He lives there with his wife, dog and piles of books. He runs Woodbridge Press, and is the series editor and creator of the Explorations series of anthologies.