Wednesday, September 21, 2016

# On Writing # Post

The Surprising Writing Tip Authors Never Use

On Select Wednesdays, I post tips and strategies for writers. 

by J. Rose Allister

"Writing process" is one of those topics that mystifies new writers and is bandied about at length by the rest. Here's roughly the order in which a book is usually created:

1. Get story idea
2. Take notes/outline plot
3. Develop characters
4. Create draft
5. Revise/edit
6. Submit
7. Approve final edits
8. Approve cover art

There might be some shuffling around in there, or perhaps number 2 and 3 might be omitted by writers who are "pantsers" rather than plotters. But generally, most writers would agree that the above is common. But what if this chain of events was mixed up a bit? What if the last step became the first?


Typically, books are written and then covers are created in an attempt to match the story. But why not find the perfect image/artwork first and write the book around that? There are two reasons why this can be a huge help to writers.


Writing prompts and plot generators are popular ways to spark creative ideas for stories. A few words or the right sentence can pop on the light bulb in a writer's head and launch them into crafting a great story. Similarly, visual writing prompts can trigger ideas as well.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the right image can be worth a 50,000 word book--or even a series. So surfing for cover art can, in and of itself, become a prompt for a tale the writer is excited about. Even better, the book will be written with the most important element of promotion already in place, which brings us to reason number two.


Despite the adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," the plain fact is that stunning, emotionally-packed covers sell more books. If there's only one thing a writer can do aside from writing a great book,  it should be to make sure the cover screams, "Buy me."

Rather than writing a story and hoping a great cover can be found to fit, picking out The Ultimate Image up front gives you an edge right out the gate. Because while some questionable stories sell well thanks to a kick-butt cover, many amazing, well-crafted tales languish in obscurity because their covers were lackluster or downright ugly.

Which inspires interest, both as a writing prompt and an eye-catching cover?


So where can a writer go to find jaw-dropping, write-my-book-NOW cover imagery? If you're just looking for a visual prompt, a Google search for images, or else a peek at the top 100 Amazon bestsellers in your niche, can offer inspiration. But, if you're seeking images for your actual cover, you'll want to check out sites that offer them for download/purchase. There are many resources just a Google search away, but here are a few places to get you started:

(especially great for fantasy/horror/paranormal writers)

Some free resources:

You'll want to check licensing rights before grabbing images for cover art. 

This isn't just a tip for indie authors who are responsible for obtaining covers. Other authors can pitch their cover idea to publishers as well. Some are open to this (some aren't), especially if your suggested cover fits your niche and has major sell factor.  But even if the contracting publisher turns down the offer, you were able to write an inspired story based on your "prompt". So it's a win-win either way. (And maybe, just maybe, you can inspire their art department by sharing the cover concept.)

If you are paying for your own cover design, there's a bit more to it than having your perfect image. You'll want your cover artist to enhance the image with a professional-looking, high quality design. But already having the art you want in hand can help greatly along the way.

For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than thirty books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

1 comment:

  1. great idea! I've been inspired by photos before so this is awesome.


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