So an author has spent months—years, even—writing a book. Now what? Well, it’s time for her to go about the business of publishing it. I won’t lead you through the great expanse of discovery, as this is my second book, and that would take eons. Plus, it's been done. What I will instead do, is provide you a voyeuristic adventure, where you'll peek behind the curtain to watch a crazed author take a book to the shelves. Stay close beside me, it’s a little scary.
I'm at stage…oh, let’s call it J for simplicity’s sake. At stage J, I have already written said novel, fought with my proofreaders and content editor about this sentence and that coma, and how convoluted the flashback section seems, and the lost the battle commonly known as "How come I can't use semicolons anywhere I want? I like them, they're the eyes of the winky face emoticon for goodness sakes!" My critical readers have had their say, and corrections have been made accordingly. Now it's book cover time.
I should interject here that stages A through stage H are about the same for both traditionally published authors (the ones whose eBooks cost around $12.99) and independently published authors (the ones whose eBooks typically retail for $4.99 or less)—you’ll understand the pricing differences all too soon. I am the latter, by the way. We call ourselves Indies. Based on political affiliation, this is about the place where the two groups diverge.
At stage H, the traditionally published author is ushered offstage by her publishing people and locked back in her tower to write the next revenue-generating masterpiece. But what of the indie? The indie, having chosen to lop off all—and I do mean ALL—of the upper management, has got quite a bit left to do before returning to her tower.
So...back to stage J: The Cover. I use a wonderful designer, Ashley Fontaine, owner of One of a Kind Designs. She created the award-winning masterpiece that is The Carrot's cover, so, of course, I absolutely must have her on this project. (Note said masterpiece, combining the "real" human-type image used on so many women's fiction covers, and the cartoonish city backdrop seen in chick lit) My writing is a melding of these two genres. The city and briefcase indicate a serious business woman, and the legs crossed at the ankles behind the case, suggest the character's vulnerability. Brilliant!
Now before we plow on, I should also mention that my situation is somewhat unique: I’m moving backwards-- literally. I wrote The Carrot as a standalone novel with a clear beginning, middle, and end, wrapped up nice and tight with a pretty orange bow on top. Well, much to my surprise, my fans demanded more—harassed me on Facebook and here on the website in which I dwell. Authors are entertainers in their base form, and any entertainer with half an IQ point knows better than to deny fans. Okay people, more it is! A sequel, which I am now writing during thieved moments. But wait, something is missing...
Susan Wade, my twenty-nine year old heroine, is hell on wheels, which makes her entertaining to say the least, but some readers commented that it took them a while to warm up to her. I want them to know, love, and commiserate with her from page one. I pondered how to attack this conundrum and decided that readers might enjoy getting to know Susan before she becomes the somewhat vicious and altogether jaded business woman creature they meet at the beginning of The Carrot. A story about a younger Susan: a messy, hopeful college girl embarking on her search for the American dream, stardom, the moon! (Or, that job that will mold her into said fierce and battle-scarred almost thirty-something woman).
What I've described would be termed a "prequel". But what to do with such an animal? After conferring with some trusted colleagues (we indies do that--openly share and wholly support one another), it was suggested that this prequel spearhead a series, of which that beautiful, wayward vegetable novel would become a part. The series would need a name, of course. "The Carrot Series" would make no sense, because: one, The Carrot is now second in the series (I'm a chronological kind of girl), and two, a "carrot" is a business term that really only applies to that particular story.
I/We/I decided on the Susan Wade Saga—a tongue in cheek of sorts, as Susan's life truly is one gigantic saga. So, this fresh off the farm prequel, entitled, The Interview, becomes Susan Wade Saga: Book 1, and The Carrot becomes Susan Wade Saga: Book 2. It’s like giving birth to a baby, and then later adopting a child who is older than the baby. Tricky business, because the baby, who has been with you longest, is no longer your eldest. Still with me?
So, as just stated, my baby has now become Book 2. Well, there’s our next problem. Do you see it? The Carrot’s cover must be altered to reflect its new position in the family line. "Ashley, Oh Ashley…"
Voila, Ashley saves the day! With a nip here and a tuck there, I have the new and improved cover. It bears noting that this blog has just turned into its unveiling. So….Ta Da!
It might seem confusing to readers who wander by the electronic shelves and notice that there is no "Book 1" companion piece beside The Carrot, so I don’t plan to exchange covers until the eleventh hour—which is rapidly approaching, I might add.
We’ll save the The Interview: Susan Wade Saga Book 2 cover discussion for the next blog in this series/saga/series.
Until we meet again, please keep reading!!
~Virginia Gray, Author of the Bestselling novel, The Carrot
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The influx of self-published books and their success in the marketplace is indicative of an open-minded audience willing to try unfamiliar names not backed by large publishing houses. It’s a truly great time to be an author!