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I need to build another website. Also, a free offer for writers.

Okay, here’s the thing. I have print versions of my three novels, and also my two story collections, ready to go. They should be available online pretty soon.

So, the obvious question: why has it taken me so long to do this? And the obvious answer: because I’m fairly stupid. Duh.

But seriously–why the years-long delay? The real answer: because I don’t like the way other people do the work. I don’t mean they don’t do it well; some of them clearly do. I mean that I don’t like the way they do the work. And I’ve been freaking busy. You know, life and such.

So, here’s the thing. Suppose you decide you want a book cover for your ebook. Okay, so you buy one. You pay $20-$200 or so, and you’re reasonably pleased with the result. Now…years later, it could be…

  • you want a print book. Did you like that cover art you got with your ebook cover? Well, that’s nice. But now you’re most likely dealing with a different professional, and he or she doesn’t have access to the original art. And, it turns out, the art you have isn’t the right resolution/quality for print purposes. Or…
  • you want a print book. Oh, and you’d like to coordinate the font used on your ebook cover with the font in the interior design. You know, chapter titles and such. Well…your new professional doesn’t have the font available either. Or…
  • you already have the ebook, and that’s all you want. But it turns out you’d like to change something. Something really freaking minor. A subtitle, maybe. Or you have “Author of ThisGreatBook” under your name, and you’d like to change it to “Author of ThatGreatBook.” But when you bought/commissioned your ebook cover, all you got was a lousy T-shirt. No, wait. I mean all you got was a JPG image. Hard to edit that, isn’t it? So a minor change involves either (a) a whole new cover, maybe and maybe not with the original images and fonts, or (b) having to track down the original artist–who may or may not still be in the biz–to get the simple change made. Or…
  • You got your book formatted just fine, for Kindle. You have a MOBI-format file, and you like it. But then, either you suddenly want an EPUB…which, frankly, is an easy conversion and if that’s your only problem you should just install Calibre…or, more likely, you want to use a service like Smashwords to distribute your book more wildely. Or maybe you want to add an excerpt from your second book to the end of your first. Or maybe you already did that, but you’re now on your fifth book and you think that excerpt is a better choice. But all you have is your original MOBI file, and now what? Do you hire another professional? Track down the first? Or…what?

In short, I don’t like the way these people work. I don’t want to imply that there aren’t good people out there, providing good value. I’m sure that’s not the case. I just mean that I’m very picky, and want to own the covers and interiors. Which, to me, means I can change them whenever I want, without having to find someone else to do it. So I’ve had to learn to do these things myself.

I wanted full access to source files, so changes are easy, and full access to original artwork, so changes are easy. And, you know what? It turns out that I really enjoy the whole process. Doesn’t actually take that long, either, now that I’m getting the hang of it.

So I’m thinking I’ll start up a new micro-business along these lines, because I can’t be the only writer out there facing these frustrations. My plan, initially, is to offer to format an ebook (using Jutoh, and I’ll be sending the original Jutoh file) for MOBI, EPUB, and the weird Smashwords Style Guide if desired. I’ll also be including cover art, which I design using Gimp (all files will be included–and they can be opened/edited in Photoshop if you prefer) and Adobe InDesign (guess what? source files included!), which will result in one PDF for the book’s cover, and one for the book’s interior. Using this method, you can proof every page before you send the file anywhere. If you want to make changes? You can.

And I’ll do a full cover design, mind you–it’ll include both an ebook front-only cover and a full back-spine-front cover for a print book. If it turns out that the ebook cover needs to be a little different from the print cover? Because, say, the title or author name isn’t as visible as it should be in the thumbnail-size version used by online retailers? Fine; that’s two cover designs. Included, as long as the change is something minor like font size.

Thing is, I need to set up that new website to really get started, here. I also need to fix several of my short-story covers, because I kind of threw those together and they’re not quite up to par. And I need to post some interior shots of my new print versions, because you guys haven’t seen any of that.

But some of you folks reading this are writers. Some of you probably have stuff that’s ready to go, or stuff you’re not satisfied with. And maybe you don’t think my covers totally suck. And I’m going to need at least a couple of testimonials before anybody takes this seriously.

So here’s my early-bird offer: I’ll do all of the above, for free, for the first three projects I agree to take on. What I’ll need from you:

  1. Your current cover, print or otherwise, if any.
  2. Links to covers, in your genre, that you really like.
  3. A back-cover description.
  4. Your book’s content. I don’t really care what format it’s initially. If it’s really weird and I can’t convert it and go from there, I’ll let you know.
  5. For a new cover, I’ll need proposed cover art (I like stuff from, and the site has the advantage of offering watermarked images for mock-ups…initial browsing/selection should probably be done by you, not me).
  6. And also proposed fonts, if you have specific needs–just send ’em to me, or a link to the stuff you like elsewhere and I’ll see what I can do.
  7. A book trim size, for print. 6″ x 9″? 8.5″ x 5.5″? Whatever; you tell me.

Caveat: I’m talking fiction, here, or maybe narrative nonfiction. I’d love to branch out to new genres, but I don’t want to get into all the images and formatting nonfiction would require. Or, at least, not yet. It does sound like fun. But…not yet.

If this takes off, I think I can be pretty competitive on the price front. And I know I can, by providing source files at no extra charge, and also by combining various forms of formatting into one offer, provide good value. Long-term business value.

If we need to use cover art that costs money? You’ll pay for that, and send it to me, after you’ve selected it. Possibly after I’ve used a “comp” version for a mock-up. Same with fonts. But there’s lots of free stuff available, if you’re on a tight budget.

Other than that, it’s free. For my first three projects. I’ll need permission to use your cover art, and possibly a pic or two of your interior design, for my new website–once I build it. Also, if this is going to be free, I’d very much like a paragraph or two from you telling what you think of the process and the final product(s). Without testimonials, I don’t have a very convincing product.With them, I’ll be on my way.

So we can help each other, here, if you’re of a mind. Final caveat: I am not going to do any form of editing. I probably won’t even read your book, even though I’ll look at every page. That way lies ego-clash, and frankly I’m busy. So, not on the table. Covers and interior design, though? Definitely on the table.

Interested? Contact me, and we’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on Bleed on the Sky‘s first draft, and it’s getting complicated. So, I hope to hear from you soon, but I need to get back to it.

Have fun out there!

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