Some thoughts on paid editing and cover design

Be realistic about what you spend on editing and cover design. Especially if you don’t have a lot of money to burn on these sorts of things and you’re new to writing.

Sure, it might take you a lot longer to edit if you’re doing it yourself, and you probably won’t get the benefit of a second perspective, but in the process you can come away with some wisdom that will help you in the future, even if you decide to work with an editor.

As far as cover design goes, yes a professional artist would make a better book cover, but we’re living in an age where more and more people have had exposure to some kind of painting program. Here are some points to consider if you would like to make your own:

  1. The cover has to look good (lettering should be clear) when zoomed right down. This means there needs to be some contrast between the background and the lettering, and the background should not rely too heavily on fine details.
  2. Know the resolution you need for the finished cover.
  3. Keep the different elements on separate layers. This makes it easier to try different things and make changes.
  4. Truetype lettering is easy to create, but is almost immediately recognisable. It’s a good starting point but turning the text into paths allows you to manipulate the form of those letters to whatever you would like. You can also create a selection from a path, allowing you to affect only certain parts of the image.
  5. Use guides or rulers to help with layout. There’s nothing worse than spending hours on a design and then realising that things are noticeably off-centre or too close to the edge of the cover.
  6. Use Save As instead of Save when you want to go in a different direction with the cover but have the option to revert to your previous work. If you have multiple candidate images for the cover that you want to assess, export them all and slideshow through them.
  7. Just like with writing or editing, expect the process to take a few iterations before you’re happy with it. 🙂

I’m not writing this to disparage the efforts of editors and cover designers. I’m sure that they do good work. However, if you don’t have a lot of money to start with, paying for an editor and a cover is one hell of a gamble.

If you’re looking for a cheaper way to improve your book, buy something nice at the shops, or travel somewhere nice to treat yourself. Even just taking a walk can help you come up with game-changing ideas.

It’s that time again!

I’m getting ready for another round of editing.

So for example, I’m going to back up the story as I go, so that if I don’t like my edits I can go back. And, I’ve already made a bunch of notes about what I want to change and where.

As usual, with my backwards editing process, I’m not simply taking things out, I’m also adding things which need to be there. So there’s going to be some extra writing to do. And like I already said, if I don’t like where things go, I can always revert to the backup.

Something else I thought I should mention while this is going on. I’m probably going to start limiting how much free content is available here on the site. The reason for this is that there’s really not much incentive for someone to buy a book when they can just read it all for free. Maybe other writers can give away free books, and maybe that works for them. I haven’t had many comments about the things I’ve been working on, so maybe keeping most of it under wraps will give me that mysterious edge I’m lacking. “Read it and see,” or something like that. 🙂

This round of edits will ideally get the stories up to an excellent standard. I’ll still need to get someone to read them, but I’ll hold off until I’m a bit closer to finishing. One of the main complaints that I’ve had in the past from prospective readers (and that I totally understand) is that the stories aren’t finished. Yes, there’s a few good chunks of content, and there’s also nothing joining them up.

So I’m going to try and spend a bit more time on the writing instead of this once a week thing in the wee hours of Sunday morning.


Martin July 15, 15:35 GMT+0000

Doing a bit of spring cleaning here on the site.

I’m preparing to resume writing, or at least organise myself a bit better. 🙂


Martin December 23, 5:22 GMT+0000

The newest version of the Jetpack plugin seems to have a mobile theme, so I’ve enabled that here on the site. Hope it works for you. 🙂

Also, I’ve decided that the next story to work on is Pegasus. It makes sense, it’s been a while since it saw an update.


Martin December 21, 0:32 GMT+0000

Just posted the fifth part of the Maw of Despair. Enjoy!


Martin December 20, 8:22 GMT+0000

So Wattpad has broken their embedding feature. I’ve sent them a Tweet about it, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Basically it means that the story page shows up inside the box which would usually have the neat embedded widget. Might as well just link you there instead. 🙁


Martin December 19, 4:21 GMT+0000

Um, no. After a reviewing of the Twenty Fifteen CSS file I decided ‘Hell no’ and reverted to my current theme.

It doesn’t really lend itself to being modded in the way that I would have liked. Shame on you, WordPress. 😛


Martin December 19, 3:41 GMT+0000

I may be switching over to the Twenty Fifteen theme for the site. It does not have a page menu at the top though, from what I can see of the preview, so I’d need to provide one for you if I did that!