Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.


Changing Book Covers on Amazon—again

One thing I really like about self-publishing ebooks is that I can change my mind as often as I like. It’s possible that’s not necessarily a good thing because I’m very indecisive and I do tend to change my mind, quite frequently. Luckily creating book covers on Amazon using their cover creating program is very easy and kind of fun. I enjoy that aspect of book creation–it’s the icing on the cake; after all those months of writing and editing and formatting it can be fun doing that final step of making a cover.

I should mention it’s not quite so simple if you want a print copy of your book, although if you’re going through Createspace, and you’ve managed to find your way through to getting the interior of the book formatted perfectly, you shouldn’t have too much trouble designing a cover using their program. If you’re using your own photo and fitting it into their design, which I find a good compromise between doing it all yourself or having them do it all, you just need to make sure the photo is high enough in pixels. I know next to nothing about pixels so I just keep making the photo bigger and bigger, (using Paint on my version of whatever it is, Office? Microsoft?) until finally it’s given the okay. Seems to work. All the print copies I’ve seen have been fine.

Getting back to ebook covers, again all you need to do is upload your own photo, if you want to use your own photo. They’re not nearly so fussy about pixels as Createspace and it’s very simple to select a design, upload your photo (or use one of theirs) and choose the colours and fonts that you want. You can play around a bit and, as I said, it’s very easy. If you don’t have your own photos you can download free ones from; most of mine are from there. Of course if you do go through Createspace you don’t need to worry about your ebook version at all, they’ll put it through for you.

Sometimes when you are at that stage, having just completed your book and designed the cover, you might just want to get it done and out there to the world, so your cover design might not be as big a priority as the book itself. Number one reason why I often change mine at a later stage. Or you might not be able to find the perfect picture for the cover and if you come across it later you don’t have to live in regret, wishing you could do it again. You just do it! Again! Easy. Just go to your bookshelf and click on ‘Edit Book Details’ and upload your new cover with their cover creator.

beastfromkindlecoverMy latest re-do is my children’s fantasy, ‘Beast of War‘. It’s not the first time I’ve changed the cover on that–without paying for an artist it’s not easy to find something suitable for a story about three teenagers who aren’t human, on a journey to fight a beast! When I saw the photo of a run-down cottage in the woods I thought immediately it was perfect; there is such a cottage in my story and although it’s not a big part it is pivotal so I think it works. Of course I might change my mind in a few months, who knows?

Check out my new cover and tell me what you think.  Beast of War is free on the 8th and 9th of January and ‘Last Chance‘, another children’s story, is free 7th and 8th January.doglastkinblog

Beast of War UK Readers.



Last Chance UK Readers.



Sorting Fact from Fiction

Does anyone else get a bit annoyed when they’re reading a book which purports to be non-fiction but is clearly riddled with fiction elements–the way people are feeling, for example, or what they were thinking about? It’s possible, if the writer is using diary entries, to stick to the facts and still include such details, but generally they must be invented. I don’t object to that style of writing at all–it makes the characters seem more real and makes the book more interesting, but I do like to know what is fact and what is fiction.

One of my all-time favourite genres is historical fiction–I’ve always been fascinated with history but even more so when it’s interpreted by a great writer. Some writers do let the reader know at the end of the story just what’s real and what isn’t and that’s what I did in my historical fiction, “Her Flesh and Blood”. BookCoverImageher fleshandblood

I attended university a few years ago as a mature age student, majoring in history. I loved it, especially the research, which I expected to find horribly boring. I admit some of the books were, but the primary research was absolutely fascinating. Reading newspapers over 100 years old and handling original letters written by a murderess before she committed her crimes, in 1910, I felt incredibly privileged! I wrote my Honours thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder; as I said, the research was amazing, but writing within the boundaries of a university thesis was a hard slog.

After I graduated I felt I had to use the material I hadn’t been able to use for my thesis, that the story needed to be told, and I wrote “Not Guilty“, the story of the worst of the cases I studied, which, coincidentally, took place in the town where I live. This is a true account and the newspaper accounts are very creative but, as a writer with a fiction background, I was frustrated by what, in spite of all my research, I could not find out about my protagonist, Camellia McCluskey, so I not guilty 2014 coverblogdecided to give her a life of her own and wrote a fictionalized account. Having been somewhat obsessed with this horrific crime for several years it was a bit like an exorcism when I wrote “Her Flesh and Blood“. I was able to say what I wanted to, without the restrictions and I made sure I noted at the end of the book what was factual and what wasn’t! I also published my original thesis, “Demented Mothers“, on Amazon, for those who like all the facts and the sources and especially for anyone who might be studying the topic.

It’s the last day of 2014 here in Oz–Happy New Year to everyone. Let’s hope it’s peaceful.

My grammar guide, “What Did You Say?” and my children’s book, “No-one’s Good at Everything“, are free from December 31 to January 2.


For Love or Money?

Do you write what you love writing or feel compelled to write? Or do you write what your publisher tells you to?

Those of you who’ve seen my books here will notice I write all kinds of things and I like doing that. I love trying new things and writing what interests me most of all. I’m also very much aware that publishers don’t like that approach to writing. If they find something that sells they want to stick with that, understandably.

My only hands-on experience with publishers has been as a co-author for three books written under a pen name and published by a US company. I wasn’t surprised by the restrictions put on us and I must admit it was a very worthwhile experience for me learning to discipline my thoughts in some way. But, although I certainly had some scope for creativity, it was work. Real work. Hardly digging ditches but very different to anything I’d done before. Not just the restrictions but also deadlines to think about.

The best thing about self-publishing is, of course, that you can write what you like. I think I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about self-discipline but the fact is whatever I choose to write next, some-one, somewhere in the world will read it! Some-one will hate it and some-one will love it. And I have no idea myself what it’ll be, but if it’s on Amazon, it will probably be something I enjoyed writing!

There’s also the compulsion, of course. My one and only non-fiction book, ‘Not Guilty’, was something I had to do. It evolved from a university thesis and I felt it was a story worth sharing with more people than just my lecturers! I also felt, after years of research and writing about Camellia McCluskey, that I needed to exorcise her from my head (and into yours, dear reader!).

Being a creative writer I was not satisfied with the factual version of the story though. I wanted to give her a life–try to make some sense of it all in a way and so I’ve written a fictionalized version of the story. I’ve included a lot of the facts but created a childhood and a life for her, before the drama that was to unfold later.

Thanks to everyone who suggested titles for me. I now have an artist working on the cover and will make a final decision when I see that. The current front-runners are ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ and ‘Retribution’.

Happy reading.

PS  On a totally unrelated note am I the only one who has trouble reading blogs with black backgrounds? Mine was originally black and when I started having migraines I eventually pinned it down to that. To everyone out there with a black background on your blog just be aware it may cause problems for some readers.

All my books are available on Amazon and most on other platforms as well. Please see the link above for more information or just check them out on Amazon.