How I made my book cover art

They say ‘never make your own book cover art’ and they (whoever ‘they’ are) are almost certainly correct. Nevertheless, I did make mine, and it was for the following reasons:

  1. It’s MUCH cheaper
  2. It’s an interesting intellectual challenge
  3. I wanted to learn how to use Photoshop
  4. I had a clear idea of what I wanted my book covers to look like
  5. I thought I could do a better job than some covers I’ve seen
  6. It’s fun

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What does it cost to self-publish a novel?

Apparently,  self-published authors sell, on average, about 250 books. That’s on average, so it means sales figures could be anything from zero to thousands. Even if it was thousands, it’s not going to make me rich. And, realistically, a figure nearer zero is more likely. So I’ll probably make a loss from my writing, once I’ve taken into account all the costs involved in self-publishing. Continue reading

Worldbuilding a Historical Fantasy Part III

Place names are full of history, so they’re a valuable tool for the historical fiction writer. They can be full of stories too, and understanding what place names mean can give real insights into what somewhere was like in the past: what the terrain was like, who lived there and what was important to them. Continue reading

Worldbuilding a Historical Fantasy Part II

Names are important. Especially for major characters, because you have to live with them for a whole book (or a series of three books). Getting the names right was important to me, so I didn’t just pluck them out of the air. Obviously, since I was retelling a story, I had some names to work with, but were they the right names, given that there were different versions of the same name? How did I go about deciding which one to use? And what about minor characters? Where did they come from? Were any of my characters real people? Continue reading

DIY Sentence Level Editing

Everyone tells you to hire an editor to polish your text. And I’d love to do just that. But my book is over 140K long and at roughly £12 per 1000 words to edit, that means it would cost me about £1700. That’s just not in my budget! And, to be honest, I haven’t been that impressed by the couple of sample edits I’ve had. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have a verb in my sentences, and I don’t like the POV to change within a single sentence. Both occurred in suggestions for sample edit ‘improvements’ to my text. Maybe I was unlucky, but it’s made me a bit nervous about shelling out a load of cash for line/copy editing. Continue reading

World-building a Historical Fantasy Part 1

Map backgroundI envy fantasy writers because they get to make everything up. But what a lot of work that must be! On the other hand, writing a historical novel involves a lot of research. I, however, have the best of both worlds. I set my novel in a poorly documented historical past (Dark-age Scotland) so there’s not that much research I could do. And because so little is known, I get to make lots of stuff up. Continue reading

Classic Tristan and Isolde Retellings

Tristan and Isolde by Hugues Merle, 1870. Public domain.

The legend of Tristan and Isolde is a great story – a classic love triangle of Tristan/Isolde/King Mark with lots of adventures, and is part of the Arthurian body of tales. So why isn’t it retold as often as is the Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere story? I have a number of theories which I won’t bore you with here, but the fact remains that it really isn’t retold that often, which is why I’m redressing the balance with my own retelling.

But enough of me and my story (until the end). This blog post is about the classic retellings, and they go right back to the beginning of the 20th century. Continue reading

10 mistakes I made with my book design

A book needs a cover. A cover should have a title, the name of the author and some sort of image that relates to the content of the book. How hard can that be? Turns out it’s REALLY hard. There are lots of mistakes to be made, and I’ve made most of them in the few covers I’ve designed for my books. And then there’s the book’s internal design. I’d thought that was all about inserting page numbers. WRONG! There’s a lot more to it than that. Continue reading