Things Indie Authors Do Wrong

photo-141773mmm3403748-83bbc7c05140

So before I start this post, I just want to make it very clear that this is a rant. I’m not talking specifically about any indie authors or books, and what I say does not apply to all of them. I am just going to talk about a lot of “mistakes”, or rather “turn-offs”, that I have noticed in independently published books.


1. Cover Design

So, obviously every book has a cover. I mean, how could it not? It is a book… right?

What I have noticed with indie books, is a lot of authors get pre-made templates to use or watch a few YouTube videos about graphic designing and decide to go ahead and make their own.

Can this work? Yes.

Does this work? Most of the time, sadly not. See, it’s not that the covers are horrible or ugly (I mean, in some cases they are, but that’s not the point), it’s more that the covers are boring or unoriginal. They don’t stand out in the crowd. Nothing about them screams “Pick me up and read me right now!”

I’m going to be totally honest here and tell you that when I buy books (like actually spend my own money to purchase a book), it is either because I 100% am in love with the author and I don’t even look at the cover, or because the cover is so beautiful I can’t leave the store without it.

What can I do to fix this problem?

Why, thank you for asking that totally relevant question.

I think the best thing to do is to stay away from designing your own cover. This is for the same reason we authors have beta-readers and editors: we can’t always see the flaws in our own work.

The challenge with this is having to pay someone to create a cover. It is a bit of a catch 22; you need money for a good cover and you need a good cover to make money. There’s no perfect solution to this, but after investing all that time in writing and editing and such, why not invest a little money into a stunning cover?

If you do decide to hire someone, make sure they are a good graphic designer and have done notable books in your genre before. Otherwise you may as well save your money and take your chances designing the cover on your own. Also don’t be afraid to tell the designer you don’t like the first cover they come up with… its important to be able to convey the feeling and emotions of the book through the cover. That is what makes them so great.


2. Bad Editing

Getting a really good editor can be hard and expensive. I get that. However, that is no excuse for some of the things I have seen in indie books. I mean, I have come across some pretty awful spelling and grammar mistakes (and I mean super noticeable ones… not just little “barely-there” mistakes).

I mean lets be real here: there is no excuse for an author to shift between third and second tense in the middle of a paragraph. That’s just not okay. NOT OKAY PEOPLE. Just had to get that out there. Stick to your tense.

Then of course there are those books where I’m not even sure if the author was sober when they released. There are forgotten characters and plot lines and it just makes me wonder if the book was just written and put out into the world without so much as a proof read.

What can I do to prevent such a horrendous mistake?

Thank you for yet another totally relevant question.

Bad editing is pretty easy to avoid…. as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. I mean, you could always hire a professional editor (if you don’t mind the cost), which of course is never a bad idea. But if you don’t want to, you could do several other things.

You could:

  • Find a bunch of beta readers who are willing to give you pointers and suggestions (and who preferable have some kind of writing experience or who are avid readers and know their stuff).
  • Join a critiquing group (just remember that means you will most likely be critiquing other peoples work as they critique yours)
  • Let your finished manuscript sit in the back of a closet for a few months then re-read it with a set of fresh eyes
  • Stalk an editor on twitter until they finally agree to edit your book for free
  • Sell your soul to the devil in exchange for a perfectly edited book

Wow. That escalated quickly.


3. Awful Book Formatting

So you know when you open up a book and it just doesn’t look right? That is probably because it wasn’t formatted well. The whole book just feels amateur-ish. It throws the book off, if you know what I mean.

If there is one thing I appreciate most about traditionally published books it is the book formatting. I have to give it to the publishing houses… they have got the page design down to an exact science; it just gives books that extra special “pop”.

I feel like a lot of indie authors overlook how important page design is. A books interior design can make or break the entire reading experience.

Now, I’m not saying that every single indie author should have a design at the beginning of ever chapter or a special symbol between scene breaks, I’m just saying that more often than not the interior of the book just isn’t put together the right way.

Tell me how to make the inside of my book beautiful. I beg of thee!

How demanding of you! But okay, okay, I’ll do my best.

So, I’m obviously not a graphic/any kind of designer, but there are a lot of them out there. If you do decide to hire someone to make a cover, ask them about interior book design. More likely than not they will have experience with that as well and be able to make the pages of your book look beautiful and amazing (and the pages of your book will match the cover).


So there you have it. Rant over (I think). Feel free to share your opinions, and any other “turn-offs” you have noticed in indie books (or published books if you want). Have you ever noticed my book turn-offs?

Advertisements

Author Q&A- Kev Heritage

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kev Heritage. With several books under his belt, and a new one releasing soon, he is definitely an author to watch! Read the Q&A below!

7145023

Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I was introverted as a child. Reading books and disappearing inside of them made me want to write stories. So that’s what I started doing at about age 14.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: No muse, per se. Inspiration comes from everyone and everywhere—to be honest, I sometimes feel bombarded by ideas. The discipline for me is to try and write them all down. I do, mostly. I record all ideas in my smartphone and transfer them to story folders (both physical and virtual) and then never look at them again…

Q: Tell me about your latest release, Vatic. What was the original idea behind it?

A: I’m a ‘pantster’ – I write by the seat of my pants, not to any pre-conceived set of notions. I learnt a long time ago that it’s a waste of time for me to plan ahead as I have no control over events and characters. They refuse to go the way I want them to, and besides, it’s more of a thrill ride to let myself be swept along as the story unfolds, although I can sometimes dig myself into such a 27302333big hole that it’s impossible to get out! It’s a difficult, annoying and sometimes unhappy process but I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

With Vatic, I fancied writing something in first-person-limited, just to see if it was easier than third-person. So I thought I’d knock out a quick short mystery for a compilation that I’ve been working on for a while now called The Lady in the Glass. I had no idea about who Vatic was or who he may be, but I knew I wanted to write a mystery—and that it would start with someone thrown out into space with no oxygen. And off I went!

I literally had no idea who any of the people were until the moment they arrived. And yet, who they were influenced how the story developed. I find by far the most interesting part of the process is in the conversations. It’s through them that everything unfolds (and, as often as not, becomes more complicated).

Vatic’s affinities and dislikes are all organic, so that when we get to the denouement, we don’t feel cheated. Or at least, Vatic didn’t. All the clues were there from the start. Even if I didn’t know what they were at the time!

Q: Your writing falls under the popular genres of sci-fi and fantasy. What challenges have you had breaking into the market? What makes your books unique?

A: Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery fans love my stories, but I have fans who just like a well-crafted story, regardless of the genre.

The challenge of any author is ‘getting into the market’. I see writing like creating an album of music. You put in equal work, time and effort into writing each song, and hope that amongst them there will be a hit – and everyone will go out and buy the rest of your output.

Unlike songs, books, take a lot longer to write. And I tend to write what I fancy writing, rather than to anything prescribed by the market. But having said that, the more I’ve written, the more I’ve discovered my niche. I’m a mystery writer at heart—and that is reflected in the way I write, which is finding out what the hell is going on! So that’s what I do. I write sci-fi and fantasy adventure mysteries, with the emphasis on fast-pace, great characters and to never, ever cheat the reader.

Q: You have published many books, including the Into the Rip series and the IronScythe Sagas. Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest?

 They are all equally as hard and as fun as each other. I go through the same process of excitement, elation, depression, confusion, relief and desperation and always think that the finished product isn’t any good… And then a big side-order of surprise, when the reviews come in and the readers like it. Phew!

The most mentally challenging work was Blue Into The Rip. It was my first release, and at that time I didn’t have any editors, so it was a risk to edit the novel myself and put it out there. A big risk. Luckily, I have a strong work ethic and I’ve been an editor for most of my working life, so I got away with it! If anything, I’d say it’s slightly over-edited.

 Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books? Is there a lot of research involved?

A: I do no or little research. I have an expansive knowledge of science, astronomy, astrophysics etc. which I also use. For anything I’m not sure about, a quick Internet search does the trick.

The rest is pure grunt work. The first draft is always hell. I hate it. I don’t write with any plan, so at about 70K words in, I have an idea what the novel should really be about and then I have to rewrite from the bottom up. As they are usually mysteries, this makes this approach onerous. The process usually involves weeks of no writing and outright panic until I have my eureka moment and find the thread that I need to continue—although, sometimes, I have to abandon. A low moment after months of work. But it is what it is.

And then it’s redraft after redraft. About twenty of them before it goes off to my editors (it’s greedy, I know, but I have four!). After that there’s a few more edits before my final, final, last edits.

Q: If you were implanted into one of your books for a day, which would you want it to be and why?

A: Blue into the Rip – simply because it’s a modern take on a boy’s own adventure, with time-travel, rocket ships, genetic engineering, a globally-warmed future, space-walking and a cracking mystery thrown in for good measure. My main character, Blue, doesn’t have it easy, but it’d have to be my choice simply for all the cra-mazing things he gets up to.

Q: Which of your characters do you relate the most to?

A: Pretentiousness Alert!

I’m afraid, it’s all of them—in some way or another. They’re all mostly little bits of me with other people thrown in for good measure. So the question is really ‘which bit of myself do I like the most?’ Heh. Hmm. Difficult. But I’m going to go for the combination of Vareena and the Cowl from The IronScythe Sagas. Vareena arrived as a bit character and became so a lot more. She is very much her own woman—irrepressible, strong, full of verve and enthusiasm but also unpredictability. I’m presently writing Part Four and it’s all about her dark destiny. The Cowl on the other hand is a disfigured outcast, a loner forced to live his life under a hood, and to forever carry IronScythe—a blade of forbidden metals and golds—for without cursed iron, he is nothing. Together, they make an unlikely pairing, but it works. The pair represent the Ying/Yang of my own personality, perhaps, also seemingly made up of these kinds of polemics.

 Q: Where is the strangest place you have ever come up with an idea?

 A: As I have said, I’m always having ideas. So if you can imagine any human activity, I’ve pretty much come up with an idea at the same time…

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: My secret identity, which I have to keep hidden from the world. But one day…

You can find Kev Heritage online:

Amazon Author Page: US | UK

Website: http://kevheritage.com

Twitter: @KevHeritage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KevHeritageAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KevHeritage

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KevHeritage/

To keep in touch with Kev and his news & releases, subscribe here.

 

 

Writing my First Chapter

For the past two days I have been working on the first chapter of my second novel. As I have said before, my first novel (Keep Moving On) was not written very well. I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which meant I had to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It was definitely not easy.

My second novel, Candy Wrappers, has nothing to do with Keep Moving On. It is going to be the first in a series called The Gravestone Chronicles, which will follow Malia Kotter and Zane Towne in their quest to find the gravestone and banish demons from our world once and for all. In Candy Wrappers Malia is going to meet Zane, and learn about the threat of demons in the world; and how they are the real reason behind her parents murder.

I have most of the main plot points figured out, but how to actually start the book is a whole different story. I truly believe that beginning a story is the hardest part. You face the challenge of setting up the plot, characters, and setting, all while keeping the reader engaged.  Just the thought of doing this makes me want to curl up under a rug somewhere and hide.

In the past two days of working on my book, I have written 1,218 words; that is about 2 1/2 pages of size 11 font. I have successfully completed my first scene, which is about 1/3 of my first chapter. In all honesty, I think I would have written a lot more if I didn’t spend so much time online and on social media; however, it is part of my life, and I have no deadline for when I want my first draft to be done.

I have also spent a lot of time staring at my sentences and rewriting them over and over again. I think it is fair to say that I am a bit of a perfectionist. Hopefully I will be able to resist the urge to edit so I can get some new words on the end.

I have some high hopes for Candy Wrappers, and seeing it being written down on a page is very encouraging. I can’t wait to write some more, and see if Malia and Zane want to go along with my plans for them.