Archive for the Publishing Category

Book Cover Design Resources and Tips for Sci-Fi/Fantsay Authors

Posted in Book Art, Miscellaneous, Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Starfire Dragons Book Cover

For the self-publishing author, book cover designing can be tricky. It’s not as simple as finding art online and using it. You have to make sure it’s the right size and you have to pay for use of the image. Nor is it as simple as having a friend drawn and/or design your cover. You have to make sure you leave room for the book title and other factors. The first part of this post gives ideas on where to find book cover designers or buy art already made and for sale. The second part of this post gives you important tips in creating or selecting a design. This entire post is specific to sci-fi and fantasy authors.

Where to find art for your book cover design:

  • Freelance artists – Find a book cover designer on sites like,, and other freelance sites. Keep in mind that though the cost might seem like a bargain, you get what you pay for. Every once in a while, though, you can get both a good price and a great cover.
  • Public domain art – My sci-fi book cover is made partially from public domain images from NASA. You can also find public domain art on Wikimedia Commons, the Library of Congress, and National Archives.
  • Stockphotos – All my fantasy novels used art from a stock photo site. My favorites are,,, Be sure to read the usage rights on these. Some do not allow for use on book covers. Or if they do allow book cover use, they charge a lot more. Count on spending at least $50 for the image. The average I paid was $100.
  • Online art galleries – Deviantart is my favorite source for finding sci-fi and fantasy artists. If you see art you like, you might be able to buy it outright. Or if you see a style you like, you might be able to commission the artist. Not all artists are book cover designers so you will have to be specific in what size you need and the placement of your title and other text.
  • Contact an art school – Contact the art school’s illustration and design department to see if they are interested in a project. Offer to support the school in some way as a form of payment.
  • Ask a friend – This is what I ended up doing for my first sci-fi novel. If you don’t know an artist, ask your writer friends who they used for their art.

Dragonbone Chair ebook cover The Dragon and the Lion by Dawn Ross

Tips for making a good book cover design:

  • The image for your book cover design should be large and at least 300 dpi. This will be especially helpful if you plan on printing physical books rather than e-books. This will also be helpful for if you need to crop or re-size the image for other uses. I understand a lot of publishers want the image in .pdf format, but I’ve had no trouble using the .jpg format. You should have no trouble saving it in both formats.
  • The book cover image should have thumbnail appeal. The image can’t be so busy that viewers on a computer screen can’t tell what’s on the cover. I like how the ebook version of Tad Williams’ book The Dragonbone Chair is just a simple sword.
  • The image should be relevant without being cheesy. Again, I reference the cover for The Dragonbone Chair. Its simple design isn’t just easy to see in a thumbnail, it also indicates the book is a fantasy.
  • When combining two different images, make sure they work cohesively together and not cut-and-paste. My cover on The Dragon and the Lion is made from two separate images that I edited so that the color scheme matched and they look like they belong together.
  • Stick to classic fonts. You can be a little creative if you like, but don’t overdo it. And make sure that if you do get a little creative with your font that it is relevant to your book.
  • There should be room in the art for text placement. If you’re cover is of a warrior or something, make sure the book title can be seen without having to cover the warrior’s face or other important elements of the cover.
  • Don’t forget the back cover. If you have art for the back cover, make sure it is simply a continuation of the front cover and doesn’t introduce new elements or styles. Or you can simply use a solid color for the back cover.

That’s all I have for now. Where do you get your book cover art? Do you have any tips for making a good book cover design?

Expenses to Expect when You are Self-Publishing Your Novel

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Writing a novel is not easy. But if you’ve done it and you think it’s a worthwhile read, you have a new difficult task ahead of you – getting it published.

There are many ways to get your novel published. They are the traditional way, self-publishing, and numerous ways in between. This article is about the newest and easiest way to get published—self-publishing.

Although self-publishing is the easiest way to get published, it is the most difficult for getting your name out there because you also have to self-market. And although it is often relatively free to self-publish, if you truly want your work to get read and possibly even popular, you will need to be prepared for certain expenses.

  1. Writing Supplies – This is an expense you will have whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. Writing supplies can include a computer, software, notebooks, notecards, pencils, etc. Costs may vary depending on your wants and needs.
  2. Beta Readers – Beta readers are the most basic type of reviewers. They are your friends, family, or other informal readers. They can help you find plot holes and minor errors. They can tell you which characters, scenes, chapters, and other things they like most or dislike the most. Keep in mind that these types of reviewers are not likely to provide a professional opinion and some of their feedback may even be wrong. Also, their opinions may be biased. Family and friends will probably do this for free, but if you want more objective reviewers you may want to offer an incentive to people who are not friends or family. I’ve paid between $50 and $100 per beta reader.

    I found some decent beta readers on On Simbi, I exchanged services rather than paid them. They read and critiqued my book and, in exchange, I offered to do some art work for them. If you can provide a special skill, maybe accounting, dieting coach, or pet training advice, for example, you can offer your skills in return for beta readers. Keep in mind that some of the people you solicit will not follow-through. But at least all you’ve lost is time.

  1. Content Editing Service – Unless you’ve already had training as a writer, a content editor is a must. They not only provide an objective review, they also provide a more detailed review. They can tell you exactly what you’re doing right as well as exactly what you’re doing wrong. They will understand more about whether your book will capture a reader’s interest and keep their interest. They will be able to find plot holes better. The will tell you how to build your characters better, your scenes, and so many other things.

    I can’t stress the importance of this enough. When I wrote the first draft of my sci-fi, I knew and beta readers knew it wasn’t as good as it could be. But we weren’t knowledgeable enough to know what could be done to fix it. My content editor saved me. I think my book is ten times better now than it was originally, thanks to her feedback. Her services cost me about $500. And just so I can have a second opinion on the rewrite, I’ve hired another content editor for about the same cost.

    One thing about a content editor, they will be bluntly honest about your book. It will be very difficult to hear. You will want to get defensive about their opinions. But don’t. Listen. Listen to everything they say. Write it down. Then take a step back and think about it for a week or two. If you can learn not to take their advice personally, you will become a much better writer.

  1. Line Editing Service – A line editor will look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Nothing is more irritating than reading a self-published book and finding dozens and dozens of errors. Hiring a line editor is very important for self-publishers. I’ve recently paid about $500, but the person was in my writer’s group and was doing a favor. I believe the service can cost much more.
  2. Art – You will need a book cover for your book. And unless you are an artist, you will need to pay someone else to do it for you. Although I am an artist, my specialty is not in sci-fi art so I’ve paid an artist to do my book cover. It cost me about $100 this time but I’ve seen sci-fi artists charge as much as $500 or more. I’ve also found art on photo sites. These look deceptively cheap so be sure to read their guidelines. Most photo sites require you to pay $100 or more if you plan on using the photo or art as a book cover.
  3. Publishing – Although it is possible to get your book published for free on some sites, such as Create Space or through Amazon’s e-book publishing service, other places may charge you. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. So while Amazon and Create Space is free, your only exposure for selling your book is on Amazon’s website. Plus, some writers believe the Create Space publishing format is not all that great. Other publishing sites can charge $50 or more to set up your book so that it can be available for print on demand. And they may also charge you for an ISBN, which is something all books will need before you can sell them. An ISBN can cost about $100 or so, I believe.
  4. Marketing – Since you are self-publishing, you really need to do a lot of work in order to market your book. There are so many ways to market and so marketing costs may vary. Here are just a few marketing ideas:

    -When selling on Amazon, Smashwords, or other online book-selling websites, make sure you use good keywords and that your book description, or synopsis, is very appealing for would-be readers.
    -You can pay for online ads on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
    -You can run your own blog and website, which may cost you in hosting services. If you have your own blog or website, you may need to spend a lot of time optimizing these sites so that they can be found ahead of other writers’ blogs and websites. Be careful about companies who say they can do this for you. They will charge you, but their practices do not always live up to their promises.
    -You can promote your book at book stores, which means you need to pay for a supply of books to keep on hand. Independently owned book stores may agree for you to do a book signing at their store.
    -Depending on your genre, you can pay for a booth at comicons, expo-shows, or local events. I have a friend who is rather successful at selling his books at comicons. But the booths are very expensive. Over time, he’s learned to supplement his book sale income with sales on t-shirts, art, mugs, and other things which have pictures of his book cover art on them.
    -You can try to find people to review your book and post their opinions on their own blog or website. This can backfire, though, if they give you a bad review. Some people will ask for small compensation for their time. Be careful with this because a paid review can come across as biased.

These are the expenses I’ve encountered in self-publishing so far. There could be others. I’ve heard of some people paying the self-publishing sites for additional services. This could be helpful for you, especially if you don’t know how to do something yourself. And despite your expenses, there is no guarantee that you’ll make the money back. Selling books is hard work. But at least you will have the good feeling of finally getting your novel published.

Temporarily Unpublishing The Dukarian Legacy

Posted in Book 1 - The Third Dragon, Book 2 - The Raven's Fire, Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, Marketing, Publishing, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2016 by Dawn Ross

As I’ve been writing the new sci-fi novel, I’ve come to realize my writing has come a long way over the past 10+ years. Therefore, I am temporarily removing the fantasy saga, The Dukarian Legacy, as a book for sale. My plan is to rewrite it, then republish it. This may take some time as I am currently focused on the science fiction story series, The Kavakian Empire.

Dawn Ross

Self-Publishing Your Book on Amazon & CreateSpace

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Writing a book is a very difficult task. The better you want your book to be, the more difficult it is to write. Getting your book published used to be just as difficult, but not anymore. Amazon makes self-publishing your book as an ebook very easy. CreateSpace, which can be accessed through Amazon, makes publishing your book as a paperback just as easy.

Formatting Your Ebook
This was the most difficult part for me. It is not as easy as downloading your word document. Your files have to be in a certain format. For the ebook, you don’t want to use tabs. You want to use indents. Centering should be set up in styles rather than paragraph. Don’t justify your paragraphs. Don’t use page breaks, page numbers, headings, or footnotes. There are a few other things to consider as well. The best way to figure out how to format for an ebook is to go through this step-by-step process from Smashwords. Download free instructions on Smashwords by clicking HERE. Incidentally, you can also sell your ebook on Smashwords.

Formatting Your Paperback
Creating the document for your paperback is much easier. Most of the things you don’t want to do in the ebook format can be done in the paperback format. The most difficult part I had was the page numbers. You don’t put page numbers or headings on the ebook version, but you definitely want them on the paperback version. You want page 1 to start on the first page where your story starts so you have to set up your word document to start counting page one on page 7, for example. You can also have headings where the left pages show the author’s name and the right pages show the book title. Or the left page says the book title and the right page says the chapter name. The tricky part is getting all the left pages to say one thing and all the right pages to say another. Your page numbers can be centered in the footing. Play around with your book until it looks like what you want it to look like. Then download it onto CreateSpace.

CreateSpace takes you through the download process. It also lets you preview how each page of your book will look. Flip through each page to make sure it looks right. If it doesn’t, fix it in word and download it again.

Book Covers
Ebooks and CreateSpace also have different formats for the book covers. When you go through the process of creating your ebook or paperback, be sure to look carefully at the instructions for the proper size and format. Ebook covers are smaller in size while paperbacks require a larger size with a higher dpi. This is because an ebook is viewed on a smaller digital screen which generally requires a dpi no higher than 72. A paperback book is larger and the dpi should be at least 300. Don’t forget, on your paperback version you will want to make sure there is room for the ISBN and barcode.

Traditional Publishing v. Self-Publishing
Before, publishing your book required soliciting an agent. One could solicit hundreds of literary agents and possibly never finding one, or risk finding one that took advantage of rather than helped a new author. If you are lucky enough to find a good literary agent, you have to wait for the agent to solicit a willing publisher. This could take several months, or even years. Or your agent might never find a willing publisher. Self-publishing guarantees your book will be published. But it doesn’t guarantee your book will sell. The benefit of having a literary agent and a publisher publish your book is they do all the marketing and distribution. Once you get a publisher, you just sit back and wait. With self-publishing, you have to do all the marketing yourself. This can take a lot of time and money, and a possibility of little return.

Whether you self-publish or choose the traditional method is a personal choice. For me, I tried the traditional method but found it exceedingly difficult to get my foot in the door and unfortunately found a bad literary agent. Instead of trying the traditional method again, I chose self-publishing because it was more important to me to get my book published than it was to make money and have wider distribution.

Protect Your Work with the DMCA – Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Posted in Miscellaneous, Publishing with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by Dawn Ross

I’ve had two incidents this year where someone stole my content from the web and claimed it as their own. The content was not related to my fantasy novels, but it could have been. The nature of the internet makes it easy for people to copy your stuff and present it as theirs. But don’t worry, you can protect yourself in the same way I did with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)… and without a lawyer.

How to Prevent Your Work from Being Copied
Sorry, there is no magical way to keep this from happening. Digitalizing text may help somewhat and adding watermarks to photos may also help. Be sure to clearly state that it is your work and to indicate it is protected by copyright.

How to Tell if Someone Has Copied Your Work
There are a number of websites which can help you check to see if something you have put online has been copied. One such website is So if you put a synopsis or a portion of your book online for a review, copy the URL where it is located and paste it in the space on the Copyscape website. Copyscape may give you a list of websites which have duplicated your content. Click through each one to verify. Another way is to do a Google search. Copy and paste some of your content, with quotation marks around it into the Google search field and check the sites which pop up.

When Copying Information May Be Okay
I found much of my information for this article in a HubPages article titled, How to File a DMCA Complaint. Please note that even though I gave you the same information they did, I did not cut and paste. I put it in my own words and I gave them credit by mentioning them and linking to them. If someone has duplicated your content, click through to see if they gave you credit and linked to your novel. If they did, this could actually be helpful to you depending on how much they duplicated.

What to Do if Someone Duplicates Your Work
If you find work which should not have been duplicated, find the Contact Us page on their website and send them an email. The HubPages article I previously mentioned tells you exactly what you should say. If you don’t know who to send your email to, the HubPages article also tells you how to find out.

How to Get Your Stolen Work Removed
If you do not get a response to your email, the next step was a lot easier than I expected. When I found that someone had duplicated an article I wrote, I went through Google Support and filed my DMCA complaint. If you find that you have to file such a complaint, be as thorough as possible with providing Google the duplicated information. Submit your complaint and wait. When I reported my duplicated article to Google, they handled it within 5 business days. I found they not only deleted the page where this website had my article, they blocked their entire website!

I also found a video on YouTube that had used a photo of my dog. This might have been okay except it was a photo of my dog Maya wearing her dog car harness and I use this photo to promote and sell this same dog car harness on a website I own, Since they were using my photo to sell a dog car harness from their own website, I contacted them to have them remove it. And since they did not respond, I reported it to YouTube who had the video deleted within 5 business days.

When Copying Photos May Be Okay
Just because an image is one the web does not mean it is free for your use. If you are using images in your novel, be sure you get permission to use those images. And be sure to give credit for those images to the proper source. You can also buy your images from or other such sites.

I love how easy things can be on the internet now-a-days. For one, it has helped me get my fantasy novels published. But there is a risk that someone will steal my work. Thankfully, Google and YouTube have made it easy for me to do something about it.

Setting Goals to Write, Edit, and Publish Your Novel

Posted in Publishing, Writing with tags , , on February 18, 2012 by Dawn Ross


Set Your Goals for Writing a Novel

I have to admit, that this is not something I have done to its fullest potential. As a result, it has been more than ten years since I first wrote then published my fantasy novel. How can you publish your novel within a much shorter period?

The most important thing you can do is set goals. I set good goals for editing and publishing my book, but when things fell through to a bad end, I put it all aside and did nothing for a very long time. To find out what this major pitfall was, visit this blog post –

Step One
First, set your long term and broad goals. Depending on how long your story is, give yourself a good year or two for writing your novel. The writing process for my 125,000 word fantasy novel took nearly two years. It took several more months for editing. How long to set your goal for publishing depends on how you plan to publish your novel. If you are going to go the self-publishing route like I did, you should probably only need a few months. But you will need to add several more months to that for marketing.

Step Two
Once you estimate how long your broad goals are, set smaller goals within each. Make your goals realistic and make allowances for unexpected life events. Be sure to include each and every step. For writing a novel, your first step would be the outline. Then research. Finally, you would progress to writing each chapter. For editing, you will probably want to go through your fantasy novel yourself about three times. You may also want to have friends and family review it. Then you will need to allow time for finding, then hiring a professional editor. For publishing, self-publishers will have a lot of steps. You have to put your book in various formats, review guidelines for each self-publisher, build websites for marketing, and so on. A great guide for many of the steps needed to self-publish your novel is “How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free” by Jason Matthews.

If you are going to go through a publishing company like Tor Fantasy or Bantam Books, give yourself a few months to write a good synopsis, proposal, and query letter. Then make plans to research agents and/or publishers. Finally, decide on how many you will submit your manuscript to and how often.

Step Three
Stick to your goals as much as possible. But remember that your goals to write, edit, and publish your fantasy novel are dynamic. Goals are guidelines to help keep you on track. If life gets in the way reset your goals without guilt. Don’t rush in writing your novel and risk its quality. You will also find your goals to be readjusted for new information. Perhaps in the editing process you realize that you had been using punctuation or grammar incorrectly. Or perhaps in your marketing, you found a new way to promote your book.

When you self-publish your novel today, it is much easier than it was a few years ago. Places like and Smashwords make it simple for anyone to self-publish a book. While publishing may be relatively easy, marketing is not. This is where I fell short in setting my goals. My fantasy novel is published, but I have not yet marketed it. Perhaps I will read “How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free” again and set my goals.

How I Self-Published My Fantasy Novel “The Third Dragon” in Paperback

Posted in Publishing with tags , on January 28, 2012 by Dawn Ross
Third Dragon Book Cover

"The Third Dragon: Book One of the Dukarian Legacy" by Dawn Ross

Using, I have created my self-published fantasy novel, “The Third Dragon”, in paperback form. My paperback fantasy novel is currently going through the review process and will hopefully be available at & by the end of January or beginning of February. has a step-by-step process which is relatively easy to follow. However, it is time consuming. I already had the fantasy novel ready in word, but I had to tweak the pages so that the front and back matter was in order. I also had to add page breaks after each chapter so that the new chapters started on their own pages. I tried to add a map of the fabled land of Ungal, but this never turned out right.

The fantasy novel book cover was probably the most difficult. makes it easy to create your own book cover, but I wanted my own design. To have the design completely my own, I would have to download the back cover, spine, and front cover all as one .pdf document. This meant that I had to get the measurements exactly right. Since the spine is a variable, I had to calculate the spine width based on the number of pages in the fantasy novel. gives the formula, but it was still difficult to get it exact on my program.

The next difficulty in creating the book cover this way was getting the .jpg converted into .pdf. Every time I did it, the image got skewed. After over an hour of designing and trying to convert the file, I finally gave up and used’s templates instead. This allowed me to download my .jpg images, but now I had to separate the back cover, front cover, and spine. Unfortunately, the spine on the templates was generic, so I could not use my own spine design. But at least I finally got the fantasy novel cover front and back the way I wanted it.

It is in the review process now. Then I will order a proof to see how my self-published fantasy novel turns out in the physical form. Once that is done, my fantasy novel will be ready on and To find it, search “The Third Dragon” or Dawn Ross. (Direct link to novel will be posted as soon as the novel is available there. will give me my own page to promote my self-published fantasy novel.)