CREATIVES Make the Book a Reality!
Have you ever noticed how expressing genuine gratitude and constantly saying, “thank you,” can wear you down after a while? Especially after you’ve repeated the mantra for months and years on end to all points on the virtual globe. Geez, can’t a woman just write the book and get it out there into the world, all on her own, in like, one click? Whatever happened to that big red EASY button?
Sorry, I may need a nap for all the appreciation coursing through my veins, sapping my energy. But while I’m at it, I’m sure I’ll have sweet dreams about two of the folks who work quietly in the background, LABORING IN LOVE to ensure my work puts its best foot forward. I’m talking about the CREATIVES: my cover artist DAR ALBERT and interior formatting designer DEBORA LEWIS. Did you hear the ethereal soundtrack kick in just now at the mention of their names?
creatives (plural noun)
1. a person who is creative, typically in a professional context.
Oxford Dictionary via BING, retrieved 2 September 2021
Okay, so those of you who know me, know I can be teacher-bossy, tiresomely concrete-sequential, but at the same time keenly aware of my limitations. Therefore, it was ultimately imperative that I hand off the task of cover design and interior book formatting to the pros. In this case, all the kismet, good karma, and heavenly leverage I was ever due, all converged to manifest itself in the form of two stalwart publishing pros: DAR ALBERT and DEBORA LEWIS. I can attest that in addition to being talented pros, they are both responsive and infinitely patient! Let me introduce you.
I can’t thank them enough for joining me today for a Q & A about their careers.
Tell us a little about your work, how you got started, how long you've been at it.
I got started in my book cover career at the age of 9. I wrote an essay describing to my teacher that I wanted to paint romance novel covers for a living (Fabio was big at the time, and I spent hours at the bookstore just staring at Joanna Lindsey books). The teacher gave me an F on the project and told me to paint flowers or landscapes instead—her words to me? Girls don’t paint like that. They don’t paint people in dishabille. It drove me to study figures and pursue this career even harder. I went to school later in my adult life and received my degree in graphic design.
My boyfriend at the time of my graduation was playing World of Warcraft and was participating in a “Raid” with a top official at the now defunct publishing house. He jokingly asked how his girlfriend could get a job doing covers; the man on the other end sent me a trial cover, and the rest is history. I have been working my dream job now since 2008.
My work reflects the old school feel of covers from the 80’s and 90’s: sweeping romance, handsome heroes, and a more illustrative feel, rather than just photographic.
I work with authors to get their manuscripts formatted for acceptance to Amazon KDP for print and ebook, and also for Draft2Digital for wide distribution. I create book covers for ebook and print. I began formatting and creating book covers in 2014, so that I could format my historical western saga for publication. I became so busy with clients, that I put my novels aside, until now. Once I receive a manuscript, I can usually have it ready for publication within a week.
What is your favorite success story with an author?
I think it would be in the arena of branding an author. It was one who I worked with from the beginning of my journey, and we were able to take her books to the top spot of NYT and USA Today bestselling lists—books that were not re-written, just repackaged for the contemporary market, and they took off!
I work with several authors who have won awards for their novels. One of my first notable clients was Judge Judy. I’ve done covers for New York Times Bestselling Author Mike Rothmiller. I have several clients who have multiple series to their credit and countless five-star reviews. I’d name names, but with so many successful authors, I don’t want to leave anyone out.
What tips do you have for unpublished writers on how best to work with someone like yourself in the production stage of publishing?
I think the top tip I have for new authors is—don’t let your cover give everything away. Think of it like a movie preview. You want to get the reader excited, but you don’t have to put in every element and moment into the art, only to give the story away. Since most readers see the cover as a thumbnail (about the size of a postage stamp), putting in too many small details will only muddy the waters for legibility at that size.
The best advice I can give would be to have your manuscript edited by a professional and be positive that you are sending the edited version to the person who will do your formatting. Do not have someone format before you have it edited. Find out what type of document your editor or formatter will need from you. I always ask for the manuscript to be sent as an attachment and presented in Microsoft Word.
Describe your dream client.
Most of my authors are my dream clients. I like authors who are not afraid of trusting me to know I have their best interest at heart—I want the books to sell well, and I want the branding to be instantly recognizable.
My dream client would be an author who has had their manuscript edited and needs minimal changes in their text, once I’ve completed the format. By that, I mean less than ten minor corrections.
Please share a bio and contact info and any additional thoughts for our readers who may be in need of your services.
I have been dabbling in the creative arts since the age of 14 when I sold my first painting. I have dedicated my life to my passion for design, color theory, art history and the challenging and ever-changing world of typography. My book covers have won national and international awards and have helped to catapult many titles to Amazon top ten lists, USA Today best seller lists and many, many more!
I live in Bellingham, WA with my pom Zuzu and also have a full time career as a fitness professional and dance instructor. I have three grown children and two amazing daughters in law. I love where I live and cannot imagine a different life!
I cannot shout out any louder how much I love what I do and who I work with. My authors are the best!!
My contact info is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put ‘format inquiry’ in the subject line. Let me know if your manuscript is fiction or non-fiction. My fees for fiction are based primarily on word count, but non-fiction fees are sometimes based on word count as well as special formatting for pictures, tables, text boxes, etc.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I will send you a pricing page along with any questions I might have about your project. I always have the author view the format before submitting it to Amazon and D2D. Many authors upload the formatted documents to Amazon, but some prefer that I do that for them. My fee includes that service.
Have you noticed how many times I’ve used the word edited? I’ve always considered a knowledgeable editor one of the most important factors in an author’s success. Write the best novel you can. Find an editor who will do a sample edit of several pages. You need to work with your editor and question anything you don’t agree with. It’s your novel. You have the final say.
Always have your formatter send you the documents used to publish your works. Save them! I have had so many authors ask for their original, and formatted manuscripts, because they didn’t save them in a safe place. A hard copy is great, but you might need those computer files for future use. Please save all your files and back them up! You are the creator of your novels. You should have every file needed to revise, republish, or make corrections to your novel, if need be.
Join an author group. I belong to Society of Southwestern Authors. They are a wealth of information. Also, check out some of the Facebook author groups. Many are based on genre and are also a great place to connect and learn from beginning, and established authors.
Thank you, Debora and Dar, for your insight and excellent effort in turning my pile of words into a marketable book. I have received many compliments on the cover and interior formatting. I’ll see you again in a few months for the transformation of my next book. Readers, if you are need of these services, I highly recommend you contact them today because they get pretty busy keeping up with all of the demand!