Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


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Premade Covers

I’ve been making my own book covers for years and I’ve decided to branch out and try my hand at some premades. The ebook covers are all $20 AUD and covers for print (made on an Amazon 6 x 9 template) are $50 AUD. Book covers can be very expensive and so can editing; I’m attempting to keep my services at a reasonable fee. Lots more here.

 

pbgirlpurple6x9_BW_300 - Copy

Beautiful cover for print

dragon mum

Dragon mother

GUYWITHAXE

Murder

snowgirl

Ice girl

Portrait of a beautiful red-haired woman in green medieval dress

Queen

GIRL WITH MIRROR

Girl with mirror

10 cover womanviking

Female Viking Warrior

Beautiful Long-haired Girl In A Magnificent Emerald Fairy Dress

Girl in green

Elf Woman In Armor Holding Sword. Isolated On Grey

elf girl with sword

Noble fairy elf in the magic forest. Fantasy. Fairy tale, magic.

Elf boy

GLADIATORbigstock--180681301

Warrior with shield

9 cover tatts (1)

Tattoo guy

8 iceman

Knight

Attractive couple relaxing in the countryside on a sunny day

Young Couple

6 cover redvic

Victorian Woman

5 cover princess

Young Princess

4.cover redheaddark

Dark Redhead

Smiling couple embracing in park on a sunny day

Smiling couple embracing in park on a sunny day

Portrait of happy couple relaxing on a blanket in vineyard

Portrait of happy couple relaxing on a blanket in vineyard

 


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Beta Readers–yes or no?

I’ve just finished my latest novel, House of Dreams, which has taken me around two years, for various reasons. I had an operation this time last year but I was also in a bit of a writer’s block phase for quite a while. I had an ephinany, watching something on TV, when I realised I had to kill one of my tradies!

What that all meant was that I knew my final draft would need a lot of work. I’d forgotten names and had to keep checking back–Did I actually write that or did I just think about it?–Did I forget I killed that guy and mention him again?—Did I mention this before?–Lots of things that I knew I could easily miss myself.

My two elder sisters read all my books, usually in paperback form, so of course after they’re published, and invariably find at least a typo or two. Neither of them are really computer savvy; one does have a laptop but really bad internet. I sent her a USB with my story on it when she agreed to read it for me, and she was my first Beta reader! I also found two more in a Facebook group and all three were helpful in different ways, so I would say yes, find beta readers if you can. No matter how many times you read through your book you will miss things. And of course get an editor, but you’ll make things much easier for them and perhaps cheaper for you, if you get everything as clean and tidy as you can first.

Again because it had been two years since I published my last book, The Letter, I was unaware of the changes that had been made to the software I’d used before to build a cover. If I had no sons to help out I would not have been able to make a paperback cover at all. I refuse to buy Photoshop, since I don’t make covers often enough to spend that much and also it looks way too complicated. I do use GIMP, which is free, but have been using Pixlr as well. To cut this story a little shorter–Pixlr has ‘upgraded’ to a service that doesn’t do what I need but fortunately I was able to do everything on GIMP, which is fantastic!

This was also the first time I published a paperback without Createspace–going straight on to Amazon. I actually found it pretty good, possibly easier than CS was. I was a bit concerned though when I noticed the page count on their site for my ebook was 70 pages less than my paperback! I’d already sold some by then and I emailed Amazon first, then went through it all again myself. I’m still not exactly sure but I think they changed the spacing between lines. They’ve fixed it now so I’m happy with it all, at last. Whew!

All my books are available on Amazon, most as paperbacks as well as ebooks.

https://author-christine-gardner.site123.me/

 


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Writing Reviews

How much attention do you give to reviews when you’re buying a book? Do you review books when you read them? Indie authors appreciate reviews and we all know that we’ll get negative ones as well as positive. Not everyone likes the same books or the same movies or even the same colours; we’re not robots, not yet.

Just please, when you write your review, whether it’s two words (Great book!) or a small essay, please don’t give away the surprises! You may think they’re easily predicted or amazing but there’s no need to tell other readers you saw it coming or even that you didn’t. Just say you loved the book or that it’s just not your thing. As authors we can’t edit reviews, or remove them when they give away the ending to our story, and I don’t understand why any reader would want to spoil it for another reader. That’s my rant for the day–keep reading and thanks for the reviews!

My books are available on Amazon as ebooks and print and ebooks also at most digital shopfronts via Draft2Digital.


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What’s your Kryptonite?

I’m an editor as well as an author and I also spend way too much time on Facebook so I see lots of errors, which I try hard to ignore. I would never point out spelling or punctuation marks on social media–that’s just plain rude, but when I see lots of people making the same mistake I might just post something like this on my editing page:

Most of us have at least one kryptonite word–you know that word you’re never quite sure you’ve spelt right? A lot of people have trouble with ‘occasion’ and I used to as well, but the single ‘s’ is easy to remember if you look at how that works in other English words, like erosion and fusion. The pronunciation of these is quite different in words with a double ‘ss’. such as passion, hessian and mission. The sound of the double ss is different to the sound of the single s and the vowel before the single s is pronounced differently to the vowel before a double s. It’s a long vowel sound, rather than a short one. I don’t know every word in the dictionary but I can’t think of any that don’t follow this pattern. It’s not easy to explain but if you say the words aloud you’ll understand what I’m trying to get across. Just remember occasion/erosion and don’t be taken in by that double c!

https://www.facebook.com/editingindies

My books are available on Amazon as PODs and ebooks.

https://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08

My ebooks are also available on most digital shopfronts, including Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and others:

https://books2read.com/ap/nElAjR/Christine-Gardner


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Sharing Previews

I’ve just found out I can share previews of all my books on Amazon. I have no idea how long this has been available but it seems like quite a good idea. The only one I’ve tried so far allowed a free read to well into the fourth chapter so readers should have a pretty good idea by then if they want to buy the book and read the rest. Or if it’s more suitable for their mother for Mothers Day, or their teenager. I’m going to attempt to list all my books here with the links to FREE previews.

STONY CREEK

THE ROAD TO KARINYA

RED WINE AND SUMMER STORMS

THE GIRL WHO LIVED UNDERGROUND

THE LETTER 

HER FLESH AND BLOOD 

THE INHERITANCE

NOT GUILTY

RUNT OF THE LITTER

WONDERLAND

BEAST OF WAR

DARK INNOCENCE

Maybe not all then, but if anyone wants a preview of any of the others I’m happy to provide one. Happy Mothers’ day!

                                                                                                                                                     


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Finding Lost Books and other friends

Do you have a book that you’ll never forget but you can’t remember the name of it, or the author? I like to try new (to me) authors and different types of books and those that have stuck in my mind tend to be by authors I haven’t read before. One that I only remember a little of was about people travelling to another planet by hot air balloon–I know, right? Sounds ridiculous but I enjoyed the weirdness, the fresh ideas of that book. I had no idea until yesterday even who the author was, since it was at least 2 decades ago that I read it.

I love Google and look up all sorts of things so I tried a pretty random search for a book ‘about people travelling to a different planet on a balloon’, without much hope, and found it! https://biginjapangrayman.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/the-ragged-astronauts-1986-by-bob-shaw/  Apparently I have quite good taste as it won an award and he was quite a prolific author. It’s probably one of those books that people either love or hate and I wouldn’t read it again because I might hate it now. I just really appreciate writers who can come up with bizarre ideas and somehow make them work.

Another book I loved years ago, for the same reason, and wouldn’t read again, for the same reason, is The Watcher. The name, strangely enough, popped back into my head a few years ago and that made it easier to find, although it’s not the only book by that title. It’s too weird to describe but well worth a read if you like horror/fantasy/psychological thrillers. https://www.amazon.com.au/Watcher-Charles-MacLean-ebook/dp/B006C3Q13O

There’s another book stuck in my head, something about people living on the edge of a chasm, but I can’t find it. There’s a number of books with Chasm in the title but I don’t remember enough about it–it may not even have that in its title.

I’ve also found, not on Google, but on Facebook, two people, one a cousin and one a friend, I haven’t seen in over 40 years, so the internet’s working well for me!

When I’m not on Facebook or Google, or learning French on Duolingo, or writing, I like making new covers for my books. Here’s the latest. You can find all my books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christine-Gardner/e/B00AY80A08herfleshandblood

 


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Building Your Own Book Covers

If you’re an indie author you’ll know how important covers are and how expensive they can be. I’m a stingy indie author and a control freak so I like to do as much as possible myself. I also quite enjoy working with pretty pictures and I do have some background in art and design.

The most annoying thing about POD covers with Createspace has been the difficulty I’ve had in fitting the text into their requirements in the cover creator.  It always seems a bit squashed into the middle to me and when I had someone from fiverr do the text for my last book, The Letter, I was amazed at how close to the edges they were able to get away with. Passed through the system no problems and it’s beautiful! My artist daughter-in-law did the rest of the cover and I couldn’t be more pleased.

But–I wanted to go back and re-do some of the covers I was never completely happy with–they look fine as ebooks but the text on the PODs was a bit meh. Every now and then I’d have a look at different types of software that would enable me to use the Createspace template and I eventually downloaded GIMP. It sat on my computer and I stared at it for months. Well, not all the time. Every now and then I’d open it and try to make sense of it. I looked at youtube instructions and although I refused to admit it, I pretty much gave up. I’m one of those people who needs someone right beside me to take me through it one step at a time and if I’d known of a local class I’d have gone.

Fortunately I have five sons and one of them happens to know how GIMP works–unfortunately he doesn’t live nearby, but he spent 15 minutes with me and GIMP on his last visit and I’ve been working through it for a few weeks now. It’s not easy and I’ve made mistakes but learnt from them and refused to give up, so now I’d like to show off my new covers for my Red Dust Series. Stony Creek, by the way, is still free for Kindle, new cover and all! Check them out on my Amazon page. 

 

 


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Designing your own covers.

I’ve always designed my own covers and to be honest I’ve not been completely satisfied with all of them. But the beauty of self-publishing is that I can change them whenever I like and as my capabilities improve I continue to do that. My best cover so far is the last book I published, ‘The Letter’, which I had very little input in! The idea was mine but my artist daughter-in-law took over the design and since I’d already paid someone on fiverr to do the text I went with that. It looks much more professional and I’m very pleased with it.

Not everyone has an artist in the family though and I like a challenge. I always found the worst thing about creating Createspace covers to be the space limitations–trying to fit the text inside the lines. I finally realised they have a template for cover design which allows much more freedom but you need editing software to use it. Photoshop is the obvious one of course but I’ve been looking into free software and GIMP seems to be the most popular.

I don’t know how many times I attempted to understand the written directions or youtube instructions but I’d almost given up until my son was here for a weekend visit. I tend to need to see things done rather than just read instructions. He spent around 15 minutes going through it with me and although I’m still learning I know the basics now and it’s not so scary! My first completed GIMP cover is a re-do of ‘Stony Creek’, the first book in my rural romance series, which is free as an ebook and also available as a POD. It might still be showing the older cover on Amazon but will show the new one when it’s downloaded. I’m pretty happy with this and now slightly obsessed with the whole design process and want to re-do all my books!


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The Letter

It’s been a major effort but my new book is finally done and dusted and available on Amazon. ‘The Letter’ took me much longer to write than any of my other books thus far, partly because I had a lot of research to do and partly, I think, because it was the book I’d wanted to write for years. I’ve always been fascinated with history; loved it at school and also at university, but mostly I loved reading historical fiction. And still do. I don’t mind if it’s romantic or mystery or one of those family sagas. History at school was mostly about our British heritage–English royalty, which I would never write about myself but still love to read. At university I studied Australian history and in my Honours year I concentrated on Women’s History. That still sounds a little odd to me because of course it’s not only about women, but it was more a social kind of study–about people, rather than dry old politics.

I’ve written two books based on, or inspired by, my research on women who killed their children in the early 20th century, one fiction and one non-fiction, and I wanted to write a book about women on the goldfields in the 19th century. I studied that as well and had done heaps of research so a novel should be easy peasy, right? Ha! I spent hours researching specifics like what they ate on the goldfields, what they wore, what the town (Bendigo, where I now live) was like in 1855 and so much more. Of course every time I looked up something I’d find something else of interest and spend far too long reading irrelevant history, but that’s one of the benefits of indie publishing. No deadlines or if there are they’re self-imposed, so who cares?

I also had drama (of course) with the cover. I had an image I loved and a background I liked and managed to put that together, but decided to get someone else ( https://www.fiverr.com/) just to do some nice cover text for me. I quite like creating covers but Createspace covers are difficult and it was worth the few bucks I paid to get that done, but yes, drama. The morning after I sent the cover off to Germany for the text I woke up and realised I hadn’t checked the resolution of that background image. I jumped out of bed and ran (okay, now I’m just being dramatic) to my computer to check it. Not good enough!

It just so happened that my son and his artist wife were here for the weekend and I asked her to check the photo for me because I wasn’t sure. Anyway to cut a long story slightly shorter, she offered to do another image with one of her own photos and I emailed my German cover person and asked her to wait for the new image. There was some difficulty in communicating with her, mostly because she’s in a different time zone of course. We’re pretty used to that in Oz but when you really need some back and forth communication and you have a book ready and waiting for that final step it’s frustrating to say the least. I’ve been a wee bit stressed. So anyway the cover is beautiful and I’m happy with the book, so check it out. It’s available as both an ebook and print on Amazon.com, Amazon.UK and the new Australian store.

bookstandletterThe_Letter_Cover_for_Kindle