A Good Cover Designer is So (Not) Hard to Find

Guest post by Kim Drew Wright, author of The Strangeness of Men 

Kim Drew WrightThe Strangeness of Men by Kim Drew Wright book cover

I admit I toyed with the idea of creating my own book cover. I have a degree in advertising and a past career in marketing so I felt confident I knew enough about targeting audience for my genre (literary short story collection). Scrolling through photo services on the internet I found an image I thought would work and decided on my title. I quickly realized that design programming was not an aspect of publishing I wanted to invest time into when I could pay a professional who designed covers for a living.

If you research “book cover design” you’ll find everything from tips on do-it-yourself to full-service companies. I clicked on an article that linked to The Book Designer monthly e-book cover awards. Contests like this are an excellent resource. Which covers stand out to you? Start with these shops as possible candidates for your own book. There were three designers that captured my attention, so I went to each of their websites to find out their three Ps: packages, pricing, and portfolios.

Basic packages consist of either an e-book cover or both an e-book and print cover. Some have different social media images (like a banner for your Twitter page) tacked on or marketing services. According to Bibliocrunch you can expect to pay between $500 and $1200 for a cover that looks like it came out of a top publishing house and anywhere from $100 to $400 from a less expensive route.

Choices, choices, choices

All three shops I was considering had won multiple design awards, displayed a diverse portfolio, and listed straightforward fee packages. But, there were differences. Two were single one-person designers while the other was a group of designers. The first one was the most expensive. He had more marketing services tacked on to his packages and the wording on his website seemed slick and slightly glib. I ruled him out.

The next designer worked with a copy editor in a two-person shop based in Oregon. They had bios and their website was clean and inviting. It felt authentic. Their pricing fell in the middle range. I liked several of his covers; some had a literary feel that I was looking to achieve. I wasn’t totally blown away, though. I did like the sample copy edit on the website and since I was in the market for a copy editor, I sent an inquiry for contracting line editing.

The website of the third shop, the one with multiple designers, was darker and grittier. It felt like they took more chances. They had the best pricing. There was one designer whose covers I identified with, so I sent them an initial request for information on the process and timeline.

The main reason I chose the shop in Oregon, Bookfly Design, was because of the discrepancies in the initial responses to my inquiry. Bookfly’s editor, Kira Rubenthaler, responded quickly in a professional, courteous, and error-free email. She answered my questions, estimated how long it would take to complete, and gave a start date when she could add my project to her work list (about three months from when I contacted her – this is common to have to reserve a spot with editors and designers and should be factored into your search and production timeline). I sent an initial email to Bookfly’s Designer, James T. Egan, and he replied in a like manner as Kira.

The other shop’s reply contained many grammatical mistakes. She said she would be the contact person, not the designer. The entire email made me leery. I knew they had cranked out many covers, but I needed the security of working with a small team that listed very clearly who they were, where they were located, and exactly what was expected from them and from the client in contract form. Everything was upfront. I also liked the idea of my editor and cover designer working together during the process.

Questions to ask when narrowing the field

  • What is their price point? It may be tempting to go the cheapest route, but the old adage “You get what you pay for” needs to be considered. Alternatively, if the shop is at the high end perhaps they overinflate their promises as well as their price.
  • Is their website professional looking? If the website is designed well and inviting then they will probably show as much care with their book designs. If the website is sloppy or confusing it may be a good indicator that their work will be, too.
  • Do they have their portfolio readily available? They should have numerous examples of their design work. What genres are represented? Do many of the covers have a “look” that you want in your own book?
  • How does the back-and-forth work? Who will be your contact person – an account coordinator or the designer? Does this matter to you? Whoever is your point of contact they should be quick and professional in responding, and open to suggestions. Just keep in mind that you are not their only client and be reasonable and courteous in your requests. The excitement of seeing your manuscript transform into a “book” can lead you to shoot off email after email with each additional thought – better to jot down all your notes and then compose one efficient email.

The Strangeness of Men by Kim Drew Wright book cover design

Cover Elements Check-List

Your cover work starts well before you’re ready to hand it over to a designer. Think about your timeline for compiling all these elements and have them ready to go before the cover project start date.

  • Where are you going to publish this? Distributors require different formats and/or specs. For my book, The Strangeness of Men, I wanted two print-on-demand publishers (Create Space and Ingram Spark) that each have their own file formatting. I also wanted an Epub version for Smashwords to distribute to retailers like B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc. And I needed a Mobi version for Kindle.  Do your distribution research and know which versions you need to have your designer create.
  • Title, Name, and Subtitle if any – You know this already, right? Look closer, there’s so much more going on in a cover.
  • Trim size – For a print book there are numerous sizes from which to choose. Examine your bookshelf. Check that the trim size you select is one of the standard sizes offered by your chosen printers.
  • ISBN and Price – Purchase your ISBN from Bowker and have your designer create a barcode for you. Select your print book price to be embedded in the barcode and listed on the back cover.
  • Genre – Know what direction you want to give your designer. Where would your book be placed on the shelf of a brick and mortar bookstore? What do you want a potential reader to takeaway from his first glance at your book?
  • Back cover summary – This can be very difficult to write! Spend time on this. Give it to friends who are readers and ask if it piques their interest. Read back summaries of books in your genre and get a feel for the tone and wording.
  • Back cover blurbs – You should have requested blurbs months in advance of the cover design. These can be hard to get for new authors. Since mine was a collection of pieces, I requested blurbs from many of the editors that had run one of the stories or poems in their journals. Most were happy to help and sent me fantastic blurbs. One was from an editor that had not selected my piece but had been open with advice and approachable. She gave me a great review. A couple were too busy with other commitments to read. Remember to always be gracious in your requests even when they go unanswered. (Everyone that agreed to read and blurb me was okay with an electronic file. If a reviewer prefers a paper copy you can print and simple bind it at a local copy shop.) Don’t be afraid to ask. Another place to seek these is from published writers in your genre that you have meet through writer groups and conferences. You can try local newspapers or organizations that might be relative to your book. If you can’t get any blurbs, don’t stress; they are not necessary but they are always good to include.
  • Author photo and bio – Indulge in a professional photo shoot. It does not have to be someone that specializes in author photos. Hire a local photographer for headshots. Take time writing your bio and make sure to include a directive to visit your author website.
  • Logo – The publisher logo should be included on the back cover and spine. If you are self-publishing and have created an LLC, invest in a simple logo design for your company name. James was gracious enough to include a stylized version of Quick Wit Lit for me to include on the cover.  It’s one of those small details that add a professional edge.
  • Cover design credit –  Make sure to give credit either on the back cover or on your copyright page.

Typical Timeline Steps

  • Get an estimated start date – They should be able to give you an approximate date they will be able to start your project. This is huge to ask because sometimes they are so backed up with projects that it can be many months. Make sure this date works for you and ask for an estimate of how long it will take to finish it (bearing in mind that the more changes you have the longer it will take).
  • Sign a contract – Once you’ve selected your cover designer they should send you a contract that is simple to understand and spells out exactly what is expected of the designer and you, the client.  The contract may limit the amount of revisions and design concepts created—read your contract carefully up front—this may help you decide between shops.
  • Pay an initial deposit – I paid half the fee upfront and then the remainder was due at the completion of the design after I signed off on the cover. I paid through PayPal.
  • Tell the designer what direction you are thinking of – I filled out an “About Your Book” form, which included many elements that would be included on the back cover as well as the tone I wanted to portray to readers. Point him to several covers you like.
  • Wait for your turn – This can be very hard to do but you have a lot of elements you need to be double-checking during this time.
  • First design(s) – The designer will present you with their initial concept for your cover. This is when the back-and-forth starts in full. James at Bookfly did an image search on the photo I had given him to consider and found it was already in various places including attached to a book, so he went in a totally different direction than I had given him. When I first saw his look I loved it. It was not something I would have thought of and that’s why we pay people who do this everyday.
  • Changes – If you don’t like the concept then speak up (this is your book)! When James presented his first concept he said he’d be happy to switch back to my original direction if I wasn’t satisfied. Give specific direction. Tell them exactly what details don’t work for you. Even though I was happy with the initial concept, there were several images I wanted swapped out for others. Usually there will be one main image for a cover, but since mine was a collection of 38 short stories and prose poems, James sliced together a whopping ten images that pertained to ten of the stories to make a sort of collage of intriguing bits. Needless to say, with that many images there were a few that didn’t work. One was a close up of the flu virus, but it looked too sci-fi so we swapped it for a more photogenic germ.
  • Tweaks – Once the major concept and changes are complete make sure you proofread the cover closely. You should have already examined many other covers to make sure all the elements you want to include are represented. I almost left my logo for Quick Wit Lit off the spine but included it last minute when I caught the mistake. Triple-check your back copy and any names attributed to blurbs. Check for readability. Do your title and name pop out? Does anything need to be brightened?  Will the cover standout in thumbnail size? Check every detail—even though you’re working with a professional—it is up to YOU to ensure the finished cover is exactly how you want it.
  • Completion – When you are thrilled with the cover you will pay the final bill and your designer should email the digital files to you. One of the bonuses of working one-on-one with a designer was even after this final step James was happy to provide me with a file for a poster size cover image and a file of the logo he’d created. Don’t expect extras not in the contract, but sometimes with a gracious working relationship you can get lucky.

The process of publishing your book can seem overwhelming. Take the steps as they come and educate yourself as much as possible on the process. In the end you just have to go for it! Good luck and follow me at KIMDREWWRIGHT.COM for more writing and publishing advice.


Kim Drew Wright

Kim Drew Wright is an award-winning writer with fiction and poetry published internationally by over a dozen literary journals and organizations, including, The Pinch, The Milo Review, Circa, Sixfold, and in an anthology, What We Carry Home. She graduated in journalism from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and enjoyed a career in advertising. She currently resides in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. The Strangeness of Men is her debut collection of quirky short stories and prose poetry. @KimDrewWright


Author brand & cover consistency

Guest post by Mary Chris Escobar, author of How to be Alive. Mary Chris EscobarAuthor Photo; book design; branding; brand consistency

I had a huge ah-ha moment recently. I could call it a head-desk, moment, but I like the more positive sound of ah-ha (and try to avoid intentionally banging my head into things). In July I attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference and had a chance to connect with a representative from a popular online retailer. He agreed to take a look at how I was marketing my books and make some suggestions. His top suggestion (paraphrased): Your most recent book looks great, give the other two a similar look so they present consistently.

New Covers, author branding, cover consistency, book covers, branding
Before and after: Consistent design identifies a book by Mary Chris Escobar at first glance.

You know how some messages take a while to sink in? How sometimes there is this resistance phase before you can acknowledge, that yes, actually that is a solid idea and I should probably consider it? There was none of that with his suggestion. Instead it was an immediate acknowledgement along the lines of what an amazing idea, followed quickly by it seems so simple, why didn’t I think of that?

There are two reasons why this very logical marketing tweak never crossed my mind:

•   I don’t write books in a series. I understand that a series should look the same, but I figured individual books were exactly that: individuals. No need for them to match.

•   I overlooked the concept of author as brand. No, my books aren’t all linked in a series, but they do all share one very basic thing in common — me. Readers should know at a glance that this is a Mary Chris Escobar book.

I liked my original covers, I really, really did (especially the one for Delayed, with the title in the digital sign), but the moment I uploaded the new covers and saw them next to each other in an online store, I knew I had done the right thing. Now readers can easily identify that my books are all related and I couldn’t be more proud of how my little family of books is dressed.

*On a side note, connections like the one I made at RWA are one of the many reasons why conferences are so important. If you are in Virginia (or even it you aren’t) I would highly recommend James River Writer’s annual conference. It’s right around the corner on October 18- 19. Click here for details.

Mary Chris EscobarAuthor Photo

Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. Her second novel, How to be Alive, came out in late June. She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband, and you can find her just about anywhere with good coffee or craft beer and at marychrisescobar.com.  She also hangs out on Twitter @marychris_e. Her novella, Delayed, is free at all major online bookstores — try it out today!

Thank you, Mary Chris, for sharing your revelations on author branding and design consistency.  

Even in Death by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie


Published: August 4th, 2014

Word Count: approx. 40,000

Genre: Short Story

Age Recommendation: 15+



Even In Death, a collection of ten short stories, explores the thin line between love and hate; extreme emotions even death cannot destroy.

Julie wants nothing more than to receive a flower bouquet from the hometown veterinarian. However, in “A Flower Story,” flowers are delivered long after a person is alive to smell them.

After purchasing their dream home, Sara and David feel truly blessed. Unfortunately, the couple soon discovers they’ve inherited a wicked curse. In fact, in “What’s Really There,” the former residents’ spirits refuse to move on.

In the title story, on the anniversary of his fiancés’ death, Mark realizes that he can see and communicate with spirits, including Amy’s. Can Mark and Amy’s love survive even in death?

“A Flower Story,” “What’s Really There,” and “Even In Death,” as well as the other seven stories in the collection are rife with emotion that will linger well after the last page.

Amazon | GoodReads

Full disclosure: I’ve known Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie for many years and have been privileged to read her stories while part of the critique group The Sarcastic Broads Club. The stories she told over lunch at the James River Writers Conference moved me — I had to read more.

Four years later, this short story collection is no exception. Loss, loneliness, and love tie the ten independent stories together. Kristy writes poignant family relationships. Her vivid metaphors, with their use of everyday objects, reveal character and extraordinary circumstances: “I often feel like a well-worn 3x3x3 Rubik’s cube with peeling, fading stickers.” Believable characters range from childhood to end of life, exploring heartache and hope.

If you’re tired of summer beach reads and looking for a short story collection with emotional heft, you’ve found it. At times emotion might get the better of you but, as Kristy might say, “Keep calm and read on.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kristy-F-Gillespie

Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie lives in Warrenton, Virginia with her husband, two cats, and three dachshunds. She’s a middle school counselor, graduate student at Longwood University, (pursuing a degree in School Library Media) blogger, short story and Young Adult novel writer. When she’s not working, she’s traveling or dreaming of traveling. She’s been on several cross country road trips with her mom. In fact, Hawaii and Alaska are the only states she hasn’t been to.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Follow Kristy at @KFGillespie and at her blog, Keep Calm and Write On. You can find Jaded, her YA novel, here. 


When Angelica adjusts her sunglasses, Olivia notices her best friend’s black eye.

“Oh, sweetie, what happened?” Olivia reaches across the sticky table for Angelica’s hands but she moves them quickly; as if Olivia’s touch is a flame that will burn her beyond recognition.

Angelica chews on her bottom lip. “Nothing.”

“I’m worried about you.”

“There’s nothing to worry about, Olivia.” She separates the ‘O’ from the ‘livia.’

A spunky orange haired waitress arrives at their table. Her name tag reads “Bad Susie” with a little devil sticker next to it. “Can I take your order?”

“Plain coffee, please,” Olivia says.

“Same here,” Angelica says.

Susie places a hand on her hip. “You sure you don’t want pancakes? Eggs and toast?”

They shake their heads.

Bad Susie tilts her head, focusing on Angelica. “You’re worth so much more.”

“What?” Angelica winces.

“You’re wearing sunglasses indoors, long sleeves and jeans, and it’s like eighty degrees outside. And your makeup is only partially covering your bruises. Obviously your boyfriend is a beater. Just know you’re worth more than that.” Before Angelica has a chance to respond, Susie moves to the next table.


Rafflecopter giveaway

There is a tour-wide giveaway:

Calling Henrico Authors

Henrico County Public Library has an opportunity for area authors:

Come out to read, discuss, and connect with other writers and readers in our community. Local authors are invited to sign up and share their books.

Our self-serve program allows you to book a 90-minute time slot on a Thursday evening at one of our larger Area Libraries to read, discuss your writing process, sell, sign, and promote your book.

Learn more here.

#FridayReads: A Little F’D UP

  A Little F’D Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger, Founder of TheFBomb.org.

Young women today have a bad reputation, and for good reason: They’re sexting their classmates, they spend more time on FaceBook than they do in class, and their appetite for material possessions and reality TV is matched only by their overwhelming apathy about important social and political issues. Right? Wrong. FBomb blog creator Julie Zeilinger debunks these (and other) myths about modern youth in A Little F’d Up, the first book about feminism for young women in their teens and twenties to actually be written by one of their peers.* In this accessible handbook, Zeilinger takes a critical, honest, and humorous look at where young feminists are as a generation, and where they’re going—and she does so from the perspective of someone who’s in the trenches right alongside her readers. Fun, funny, and engaging, A Little F’d Up is a must-read for the growing number of intelligent, informed young women out there who are ready to start finding their voice—and changing the world.

*Julie Zeilinger was teenager when she wrote A Little F’d Up. It came out in 2012, and Julie isn’t set to graduate from Barnard College until 2015.

More about The FBomb

The FBomb.org is a blog/community created by and for teen and college-aged women and men who care about their rights and want to be heard. Name In this case the “F Bomb” stands for “feminist.” However, it also pokes fun at the idea that the term “feminist” is so stigmatized — it is our way of proudly reclaiming the word. The fact that the “F Bomb” usually refers to a certain swear word in popular culture is also not coincidental. The FBomb.org is loud, proud, sarcastic and passionate…everything young feminists are today. From TheFBomb.org

#FridayReads (or listens) from around the web

I needed this TED Talk video today. I also needed her other TED Talk. I hope they’ll inspire you to keep creating and keep showing up for your part of the job.

This weekend is RavenCon, so I’m sure I’ll find more weekend reads by great authors. Meet me there and we’ll find books together. Happy weekend!

*#FridayReads is the brainchild of the fabulous Bethanne Patrick (@TheBookMaven on Twitter). It’s a Twitter conversation for every bibliophile to share loves and find new ones.

Calling RVA writers: The Writing Show this week


“Write about what you don’t know about what you know,” instructed Eudora Welty. But how exactly do you dig deep into the familiar to create an extraordinary experience for your readers?

Veteran novelists and professors—and husband and wife—Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown talk about mining your own geographical and personal history as writers, as well as tools and techniques for finding out more about what you already think you know about your place—or places—in the world.

Virginia Pye, author of River of Dust, will moderate the discussion about anchoring your writing through environment and experience. The second half of the panel welcomes questions from the audience.

Coloring Between the Lines: Using What You Know and Where You’re From in Fiction
Thursday, April 24, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m., with complimentary hors d’oeuvres
The Broadberry (note the new location we’re trying out for April’s show!)
2729 W. Broad Street
Ample parking available in the Children’s Museum parking lot across the street, on street, and in the lot adjacent to the Broadberry

$10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 students

 I’m looking forward to learning techniques I can use in my rewrites. Will you join me?  Register now.

Visit James River Writers for more information.


#FridayReads: Small Town Spin by LynDee Walker


Tuesday I picked up Small Town Spinthe third in LynDee Walker’s Headlines in High Heels series. I love LynDee as a person. I love her writing. I love how she conducts herself at events. (She’s a rock star writer, a la my Monday post.) I met her last year at James River Writers, right before her debut novel, Front Page Fatality, came out from Henery Press. It’s been a big year for LynDee and an even bigger year for her books: Front Page Fatality is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel!

This week has been all about Small Town Spin, and I can’t wait to dig into it this weekend.

Kitten Heels and Killers

When a superstar athlete’s son turns up dead in a tiny town on the Virginia coast, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke gets the inside scoop. But she quickly spies a gaping hole her inner Lois Lane cannot ignore.

Determined to unravel the mystery, Nichelle fights off paparazzi cameras and an unexpected rival. She uncovers an illegal moonshine operation, a string of copycat suicides, and a slew of closets stacked with more skeletons than slingbacks. Chasing a killer who’s a breath from getting away with murder, Nichelle realizes too late the culprit has her number—and it might be up.



Murder by death launch day

 LynDee’s book launch at the Library of Virginia

You can start the series for a steal.

FPF sale graphic


A few other #Fridayreads from around the web

J.T. Glover adds to the motherf*^#king rockstars debate by brining in MFA vs NYC.

Lately I’ve noticed a surge among my fellow writing people in discussion of writerly behavior. Not the “have a sweet business card to impress important people” behavior, but the “go out and drink seven vodka sours before 4 p.m., shoot an elephant, and hump wildly before writing” writerly behavior. 

Debut author Lindsay Cummings does the DanaFuching rockstar thing right in her post about her first book signing.

And for the 45 minutes in sat in that chair, scribbling my name over and over in my own books, fragments of myself placed into pages, it was this moment where all the noise and the chaos disappeared, and it was my voice in my mind, saying over and over again, “this is real, Lindsay. You made it. You really, really made it.”

And if this is only the beginning…..it’s going to be a beautiful, wild ride. I’m so grateful. I’m so humbled and blessed and overwhelmed by the fact that this is my career. This is my life. God gave me a talent and a love for writing, and my agent noticed me, and she helped HarperCollins notice me, too.

To everyone involved in this journey….Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Today, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

University of Virginia students join hands in response to hate speech during Pride Week. Wa-Hoo-Wah!

Speaking of love, Paige Wheeler of Folio Literary Management shared “13 Kickass Literary Power Couples” from Huff Post Books.

Though [Zadie Smith] rocketed to literary fame in her 20s, early in their friendship they competed for the same writing prize and were a part of the same crowd of budding student authors, and Laird edited her breakout debut White Teeth. Now Laird may seem to struggle with being in Smith’s shadow, but he’s emerged as a talented novelist and prize-winning poet in his own right. And while being married to such a celebrity can’t always be easy, he and Smith have made it work splendidly, supporting and editing each other’s writing as well as occasionally collaborating.

I was intrigued to note that they talk about a man being in his wife’s shadow and the tensions it might cause, but praise novelist Tabitha King for being “unsung but invaluable” to husband Stephen. Hmmm. Your thoughts?

Have a great weekend. Happy reading!

*#FridayReads is the brain child of the fabulous Bethanne Patrick (@TheBookMaven on Twitter). It’s a Twitter conversation for every bibliophile to share loves and find new ones.

Check out DrainSpotting


DrainSpotting on FaceBook has damn fine photos of drains around the world. Like the page. I was surprised they shared my cover photo, which was taken by Steve Duncan. Thanks!

Of rock stars and writers

Dana Fuchs & Kristi at Annapolis concert
Kristi & Dana Fuchs at Annapolis concert. Adam Austin photo.

“May I get a photo?” I ask, embarrassed by my own fangirling.

Dana Fuchs, goddess with a whisky voice, pushes back from the table. “Come here.” She pats her leg. “Sit down.”

I sit on the lap of an honest-to-god rock star and movie star. She kisses my cheek, wraps her arm around me, and presses her face to mine for the photo.

Dana Fuchs had just poured herself into her performance on stage, singing and dancing for almost two hours, yet she was tireless while meeting fans after the show.

Dana’s been on Oprah and headlined concerts across the US and Europe. She’s a blues musician, rocker, and movie star. She starred as Sadie in the Beatles musical Across the Universe. She was the lead in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway play about Janis Joplin.

Bono, Dana and director Julie Taymor watching Across the Universe playbacks. Dana Fuchs photo.

If we want to talk about reasons people could think they’re hot shit, the 6-foot-tall singer and songwriter has plenty. (Picture the love child of Janis Joplin and River Song.) Yet she’s the most approachable person I’ve ever met. During the night’s performance, she serenaded a fan with ‘Happy Birthday’ and gushed how honored she was he spent his birthday with her. After the show, she asked about me. She wants to read my book, she said. We both laughed at our propensity to cuss in public. When a lady offered vodka shots, Dana passed one to me. We three toasted and tilted back our glasses. (Dana sipped white wine instead.) She thanked me profusely, hugged and kissed me goodbye.

Dana Fuchs Band concert at BB King’s in NYC. Dana Fuchs photo.

What writers can learn

I’ve been fortunate to meet hundreds of writers. I’ve seen writers love and connect with readers, and I’ve shaken my head as aloof authors ignored the people who make their living. For instance, three young authors were touring. Instead of greeting readers as we arrived for their event, they clustered in the staff area of the bookstore, in sight but off limits. One reader confessed she’d traveled almost four hours one way and stayed overnight to see one of the authors. “Thanks,” the author said flatly. That was it. The reader left after the signing with no one-on-one time with the author. I didn’t hear the author ask about the reader. She didn’t shake the reader’s hand. There was definitely no lap sitting.

I’m an introvert. I’m shy. I can sympathize with all sorts of social awkwardness. But I’ve got no patience for writers who can’t show a little love. There’s no room for aloofness in a writer’s life. Get over it.

Chuck Wendig jokingly encouraged authors to get in snits and trash hotel rooms and generally act like motherf*^#king rockstars. I want authors to act like DanaFuching rock stars and show a little more love and gratitude.

If my day ever comes, you better believe I am.

Listen to Dana

See more and listen at Dana Fuchs Band website.

Don’t forget

Elle Blair is blogging her writing process today.

My writing process

Thank you again to Josh Cane for inviting me to participate in My Writing Process blog tour. You can check out his writing process.

1)     What am I working on?

Potter’s Field, a reimagining of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying for fans of Marie Lu’s Legend series, is Potter’s odyssey through the tunnels below a near-future Manhattan to honor the promise she made to her dying father.

Photo by Steve Duncan
Photo by Steve Duncan

You can see photos and video from my research trip here.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

No catastrophic event has transformed Potter’s world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Instead, I imagine a time much like ours, except the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow .

I love sci-fi but my primary influences don’t come from Asimov novels and summer blockbusters. My manuscript began as a short story reflecting on my travels in Kenya. Articles about eating mud cakes in Haiti, slum demolition, social media’s role in protest, and urban exploration influenced the story’s direction. Of course, the geek in me had to include some futuristic surveillance that might be coming to a city near you.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

I believe where we live influences how we live in community and the stories we tell. A novel’s setting is important to me. (Where would William Faulkner be without Yoknapatawpha County? C.S. Lewis without Narnia? Suzanne Collins without Panem?) Setting research gives me the gumption to take trips I’ve dreamed of for years, like walking up a drain pipe in Manhattan…

…and in a drain in Queens…


…and the Paris catacombs…

…and streets of Edinburg, Scotland…

Edinburgh street
(Research for a another WIP)

Edinburgh skyline

…and places closer to home.

steam tunnel

steam tunnel

(Yes, those are all me and my husband. My brother, Ralph, shot the catacomb video and took photos in the steam tunnels.)

4)     How does my writing process work?

Outline obsessively? Throw organization to the wind? I’ve tried it all.

Once upon a time, I took outlining to a new level of insanity. When my critique group wrote about our processes, I called mine “Step-by-step Neurosis or Outlining the Novel.” I shared how I was currently working…

1. Idea germination and growth
2. Research and free-write
3. Character profiles
4. Scene worksheets and scene mapping
5. Rough draft
6. Time off
7. Fast read
8. Editorial letter
9. Rewrite
10. Rinse and repeat
11. A few good readers
12. What is its fate?

…and went into detail about why I was writing that way:

In the early days, I made notes but no outlines, and writing a novel scared the bejesus out of me. The task seemed insurmountable, so I started outlining, which was how I wrote nonfiction. Now I break the process into manageable steps that keep me focused and ensure I don’t lose steam because writing seems too hard.

Then along came Potter’s Field and the process was less rigid. All those scene worksheets had drilled basic story craft through my thick skull. I just did it, leaving more time to dream about my next writing adventure.

Next week on the blog tour

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Elle Blair has called every southern state along the East Coast home at one point or another. She earned a Communications degree from the University of South Florida, then spent another two years studying ceramics in North Carolina. No one could have convinced her that one day she would open a word processing file and never want to go back to her pottery wheel. Now she writes young adult novels in Richmond, Virginia.
You can visit her blog at: elleblair.com

I recommend you check out blog tour posts by   and Leila Gaskin.