I was recently asked to write a guest blog post for The Writer’s Guide to e-Publishing website about how I created the covers for my books and used them to create a brand – which as you can imagine I was delighted to do. You can read an excerpt below, and see the full post here.
Every author’s story is different, but here’s how my covers came about. I’d written nearly three novels (that is, two were complete and one was in progress) when I decided to independently publish. I’ll not go into much detail about how I made that decision as it’s a complex one for any writer to make, even now, but I will say it was based on professional feedback on the quality of my manuscripts, my observations of the publishing market at the time and a desire to take control of my own destiny. I also decided to publish a volume of short stories as a ‘taster’ of my writing. So I had four books to take to market.
I gave myself a six-month window to hire editors (and go through the various editing processes and finish writing the third novel) and cover designers, research and plan routes to market and devise an initial launch plan. I wanted to go to market with print (both paperback and hard cover) and digital (to as many stores as possible) as I felt this was important to reach the widest market available – and build a scalable platform should the books take off (here’s hoping!). I’ve always seen this as a long game and this was my strategy for writing as much as publishing. I don’t write to genre – I write books that I hope tell new stories in new ways, and I decided this was an important part of the way that I branded them. And publishing them in all formats added to the challenge (for an ebook you need one image that works as a thumbnail, for print books you need to start thinking about spines and back covers and flaps). READ MORE
1) Crossbones by Nuruddin Farrah
A beautifully written novel told by an author in the Somali diaspora often flagged as a potential Nobel Prize for Literature winner, and, according to The New York Times: “the most important African novelist today”, this gripping novel tells the story of Jeebah’s return to Mogadishu after a decade away.
“Mesmerizing… A searing look at individuals caught in the chaos of anarchy.” –The Daily Beast
2) Riding a Tiger by Helen J Beal
I was one of the stewardesses on the fictional super yacht, Talisman, when she was attacked by Somali pirates while we were on our way back to the mooring in Cyprus from the Seychelles. There was just the crew on board, ten of us, we’d just dropped the owner, Herr Liebe off in Mahe to fly back to Paris for the last leg of his three month honeymoon with his third wife.
In this novel I tell you my story first hand – what happened, how we were treated, how it all ended.
3) Djibouti by Elmore Leonard
The Independent on Sunday reported that the “pages fly by in a highly entertaining manner’ whilst the Sunday Telegraph said: “As usual, Leonard gives you plenty of bangs for your buck.
Here’s an interview with Elmore about his sixty year career and the writing of this novel.
4) Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith
Consummate action adventure: in this nail-biting tale of adventure, bestselling author Wilbur Smith brings his matchless storytelling to bear on the violent, ruthless world of twenty-first-century piracy.
While cruising on the family yacht in the Indian Ocean, nineteen-year-old Cayla Bannock is attacked and taken hostage by Somalian pirates. Her kidnappers demand a staggering ransom: twenty billion dollars. And Cayla’s not just anyone—she’s the daughter of Hazel Bannock, heiress to the Bannock Oil Corporation, one of the world’s foremost oil producers.
5) Rip Tide by Stella Rimington
International conspiracy with twists and turns and a tonne of action. When pirates attack a cargo ship off the Somalian coast and one of them is found to be a British-born Pakistani, alarm bells start ringing at London’s Thames House. MI5 Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle is brought in to establish how and why a young British Muslim could go missing from his well-to-do family in Birmingham and end up on board a pirate skiff in the Indian Ocean, armed with a Kalashnikov. After an undercover operative connected to the case turns up dead in the shipping office of an NGO in Athens it looks like piracy may be the least of the Service’s problems.
6) Dead Centre by Andy McNab
High-octane action in the Nick Stone series from the consummate SAS expert. January 2005: Nick Stone is in tsunami hit Banda Aceh on a job to retrieve incriminating evidence of an oil deal. When looters arrive a fight breaks out and a man, Mong, is killed. Nick makes a promise to his dead friend to protect his widow, Tracey.
March 2011: Nick is in Moscow filling his days at a private gun range when he is lifted by heavies and taken to meet an oligarch. The oligarch wants Nick to track down his kidnapped wife and son. It transpires that the oligarch has married Tracey and so Nick is given the opportunity to fulfil his promise to Mong.
Well hello there! This is my new blog launched in line with the announcement of the availability of my first three novels and a book of short stories – you can buy them from December 1st – and the short story collection – Half a Dozen Star Jumps – will be free as an ebook! Read more about my books here.
I will be accompanied initially on this blog by a protagonist from each of my first three novels (and more may join us in time):
– Herbert Trimble: the giant land tortoise who narrates much of the action in Thirty Seconds Before Midnight from Bestwood and the surrounding area, Herbert’s specialist subjects are zoology and evolution and film. You can also be friends with Herbert on Facebook – find him here.
– Melissa Lavender: the hedge-fund trader from Rich in Small Things, a gambler and an adventurer; her specialist subjects are poker, botany and being green. Be friends with Melissa on Facebook.
– Rachel Lassetter: the failed biochemist and super-yacht stewardess who spent most of Riding a Tiger aboard and captive off the coast of Somalia; her specialist subjects are reading, travel and Scrabble. Rachel is very gregarious and would love to be your friend.
We thought we’d kick off with a rather lovely short film of a murmuration – a flock of starlings – that inspired the ending of one of the scenes in the first chapter of Riding a Tiger. Enjoy!