The Curse Merchant is now in the hands of four beta readers, and will shortly find its way into the inbox of my lovely and talented wife, who has a secret life as a grammar ninja. Her intensity of detail will serve me well, I’m sure, and with any luck at all I’ll walk away without serious physical or emotional trauma.
Realizing that the manuscript is arriving at a polished state, I face a fundamental decision. What in God’s Green Hell am I supposed to do with it? There are a few options that present themselves immediately, and these options are weighing on my mind.
Do I self-publish? If so, do I offer the book only in eBook format, or do I provide a hard copy option?
Should I submit the manuscript for consideration by literary agents? If so, I will have a lot of work to do in creating a tight and powerful synopsis and query. I’ll need to do research on the most appropriate agents to solicit.
It’s this soul-searching that really brings me back to the formative question of my writing career… What kind of author do I want to be? Am I satisfied with writing a quality novel and distributing it myself into the hands of those who are looking for it? Or do I want to throw my hat into the ring of traditional publishing, and see if I can unlock a greater market?
At this point, I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know the following:
1. I want to write incredible stories that readers can’t put down. I want to engage the reader on an emotional level. I want to transport the reader into new, exciting worlds.
2. I want to get these stories into as many hands as possible.
3. I want a following.
I don’t see how either path is exclusive to these goals. Alas.
In the meantime, I have put thought into cover art, should I choose the self-publishing route. After a course search for graphic artists to hire, I came up with no satisfying visions for the cover art. That is, until I just tried to do it myself. Here is the product of my cobbling:
I pored over several blogs, articles, and websites dedicated to digital book cover art, and came away with some key points which I’ve attempted to incorporate in the image:
1. Keep it simple; avoid clutter.
2. Don’t try to represent a character; allow the reader to fulfill the image of the characters in her mind.
3. Choose classic typesetting fonts for the title and author name, and be sure they are clearly visible when reduced to an icon size.
4. Pick a theme that can be re-used for sequels.
Since I intend for Dorian Lake to reappear in sequels, I’ve chosen a design to which I can make minor tweaks for future books. For example, I can replace the sigil in the background (for those playing along at home, it’s the Fifth Pentacle of Mars), the foreground image, and the color of the banners. I can keep the type the same as well as the background color. Thus should you purchase all four books of the Charm City Chronicles (or whatever I end up calling the omnibus), it’ll look like a matched set.
That’s the thinking, anyway.
As you can see, I’ve put a considerable amount of thought into self-publishing, and I don’t necessarily consider it to be a fall-back plan. I see it as a very real, very valid option for my goals as an author. Good news is that I have a few months before I must arrive at a decision. In the meantime, the beta readers are poring over the manuscript as we speak, and I can hear my wife warming up the ink in her red pen already!