Featured Articles

Thoughts on writing romance novels about real 'live' people...

As a writer I’d like to be able to subscribe to certain people’s WhatsApp conversations, you know? I think they’d be great character studies… like imagine ...

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Why a staycation is better than going abroad (sometimes)

Deep in one of the world's most dangerous rainforests, I cast my eyes to the Colombian skies as my ass sagged into a river from ...

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A single girl's guide to Amsterdam's NEMO Science Museum

Check it out - a building that looks just like my love life. A giant, sinking ship. (Sigh). Yes, yes, the dating game's a drag ...

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View from Dubrovnik city wall

Croatia: Getting around in Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar

So, if you're here, you're probably looking for information on travelling to and around Croatia? You're in luck' because I just got back. I can only ...

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Remembering Yemen...

I never did make it to Syria unfortunately, but I did visit Yemen in 2008, which I'm thinking about now in the midst of this ...

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Christmas in Prague...

I just got back from Prague - another new city for me. I love nothing more than heading off to a new place and just ...

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Tinder Diaries: Getting my Groupon...

Shamus's profile shots scrolled like some kind of Action Man calendar. In one photo the 39-year-old Irish-Canadian was hugging a goat on what looked like ...

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Tinder Diaries: Tempur-Pedic promises...

And another Tinder Diary for you, this one's also from last year in Vancouver.  Tempur-Pedic promises... 'I got you a drink!!!' the text message yelled at me. ...

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Tinder Diaries: The Burner In The Park

In trawling through folders on my laptop for some old work I've just come across some diaries I wrote about Tinder dating last year in ...

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I go to the gym a lot. And other things I never thought I'd say...

Once in Sydney I joined a yoga studio for $350 a year and went once. In New York I spent close to $600 and went to ...

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Things you should probably know before going to Burning Man

So, Burning Man. Hmm. How was it, you ask? Honestly. I can't even really tell you yet, and it's been three weeks. But I'll try. As a ...

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11 things you only ever say on WhatsApp when you're going to Burning Man...

I LEAVE TOMORROW!! Am I ready? Probably not.  I'm what's known as a Virgin, (this will be my first time at Burning Man) and in ...

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Thoughts about rainbows...

I cycled home tonight right under a rainbow - the kind of rainbow that smiles across the sky in every colour, and then more colours ...

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How to tell when you travel too much (and when you should stop)

Yup. That's how. That's a screenshot my friend just sent me, when I told her to add my new phone number in Amsterdam. "Another one?!" "Yeah, but I'm ...

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…Best Of...

It started with a boy called Matt: why I'm going to Burning Man (in 2 weeks!!!)

Going to Burning Man has been pretty high on the bucket list for years... ever since I started chatting to an American guy online back in 2003, who ...

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The Royal's idea of 'Indian street kids' is not quite right

I know I shouldn't read the Daily Mail because it always annoys me... but today THIS was ridiculous. Honestly. Been to India? Yeah, so have I. Met ...

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How to write a novel: 25 rules

This post is so inspiring, just had to share! Thanks to Matt Haig, who posted it originally. Sometimes us writers really need to read cool stuff ...

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Amsterdam, I love you! See you again soon.

I've decided to move to Amsterdam. Maybe not forever but definitely for a little bit, because, well.... this. And this: And this:  OK maybe not the last one... ...

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Free tsunami romance for Valentine's Day...

Winner of the TBC (The Book Club) award for best non-fiction, 2016.  Hey guys, I'm giving away The Day Of The Wave over Valentine's weekend in ...

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How to Create Titles to Hook Your Readers

This post is written BY JUDITH BRILES posted on February 10, 2016 on The Book Designer Are you sometimes stuck when it comes to adding a title to ...

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Yay, I won an award!

It's a super duper awesome start to the new year, because after a long hiatus during which I've been working reeeeeeally hard and not blogging ...

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Who's the Mills and Boon Man Of The Year 2016? Get your face on a book cover!

Here ye, all you amazing men - and women who know amazing men! Thought I'd spread the word about this. Mills & Boon are launching ...

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Pills that make you poop glitter...

Oh my! We should give these to ALL the pigeons in London until the whole city is a sparkly rainbow! Granted we'd be covered in shit, ...

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Know your strengths...

I'm sitting in the cafe. It's just me, two loud ladies who sound like they're from Essex, and a blonde with her boyfriend. An Essex ...

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Humans of Iceland...

This is Sverrir and the replica of his great grandfather, who was once the pastor of the pretty and remote herring fishing town, Siglufjörður. He was ...

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Adventures in Iceland (in brief because I'm VERY remote right now and WIFI is scarce)...

It started when we flew Fokker. Yes, Fokker. Oh come on, tell me I'm not the only child who finds this funny? It wasn't long before ...

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NOW FREE ON AMAZON: The Day Of The Wave

A moving, emotional romance based on real-life events. NOW FREE ON AMAZON! The Day Of The Wave follows Isla and Ben in the wake of surviving ...

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***FREELANCE PHOTO - POSTMEDIA NETWORK USE ONLY*** VANCOUVER, BC.:JUNE 24, 2014-- Pedestrian traffic in front of Canna Clinic on Commercial Drive, in Vancouver, BC, June 24, 2014.  Canna Clinic at 2223 Commercial Drive, has a doctor from 5 to 8 p.m. every day. Locals can get certified by an in-house  naturopath, and pick up some pot.  (PHOTOS by Don MacKinnon)

Comedy night at the Canna Clinic...

Today I learnt two things. The first is that penguins have knees inside their bodies. Yes. Knees. Inside. I'm not even kidding. The second is that ...

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Spalding School Reunion is Imminent...

I got a message today about a school reunion for the class of 96. My first thought was JEEEEESUS, did I really leave school 19 ...

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Best things to see on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. OK, maybe not the best...

I was just eating my sushi on a restaurant patio last night when a man seemingly dressed as a Mario Brother climbed a nearby tree ...

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Oh Canada, how I LOVE being in you...

And I think these photos prove why! I'm so inspired the more time I spend here, which is Vancouver right now, in case you were ...

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Fun on the Natchez Trace - recreating scenes from a novel in real life!

Yesterday a friend and I drove from Nashville, out past the famous Loveless Cafe (where we stopped to pick up some Peach Preserve) and onto ...

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Read and review 'Before He Was Gone' and get a FREE copy!

The New Adult Book Club on Goodreads are reading Before He Was Gone to review. Sign up if you want your free copy to review! "Sometimes, ...

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RIP Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (an excerpt featuring their great work, from Balilicious)

How fuggin AWFUL to hear about the executions of these two men, and the others who were wiped out needlessly today in Indonesia. Don't people ...

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Boxing Day Tsunami book trailer (The Day of the Wave)

I made this today! One day I will give up trying to be a filmmaker (maybe), but it's SO satisfying when it uploads and I'm ...

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The Day of the Wave - Playlist

This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had putting a playlist together for a book. There were just so many great artists who inspired ...

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Aliens in the White House...

Just got a newsflash on my phone: 'Small one-person helicopter lands at White House West Lawn. Pilot in custody.' I know I should click on it ...

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Boxing Day Tsunami romance excerpt: (The Day of The Wave)

This is an excerpt from my latest new adult romance, coming May 2015. In brief... "Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day ...

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Uber in Nashville is interesting...

Me: 'So, what's the craziest thing that's happened to you since you started driving for Uber?' Him: 'Are you a shy girl?' Me: 'Er, I don't think ...

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Have I mentioned the Family Dollar Store yet?

Have I mentioned the Family Dollar store yet? It's my new favorite place here in Nashville. Contrary to the name, not everything inside costs a dollar, ...

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Lavenders, motorcycles and a feeling of deep uncool at Nashville's Barista Parlor...

There are some places in this world that will just serve to make you feel deeply uncool, no matter how young and awesome you previously ...

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Why Craigslist in Nashville is killing me...

Here's what this guy just wrote in reply to my post about looking for a room to rent in Nashville: "We are seeking a FEMALE caring nanny/care giver. ...

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Observation of the day...

Ubud cafes were full of middle aged women writing books on macs. Nashville cafes are full of cute young guys making music on macs. I know where ...

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Before He Was A Secret (Starstruck #3) Playlist...

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmhXXflqDQPAxUHvBiWosmLHWTd6sBM4Z I can't write a word without being inspired by every sound in the air around me, and I turned to music more than ever with ...

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Musings on a Nashville snow day...

No one told me flying south for the winter would take me somewhere colder than England. Then again, there's something so peaceful about walking alone down ...

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Fight your way through! A message to writers like me…

Fight your way through! A message to writers like me...

...and other creative souls no doubt! Someone sent me this video today by the amazingly inspiring Ira Glass, which I found very interesting. I can relate ...

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The difference a motorised bike makes...

I miss my bike in Bali so much that today I actually hovered outside someone's house in South Harrow contemplating whether I could justify spending ...

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Proving my roots: The nonsense that is taking the IELTS test in London...

"PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN! PENCILS DOWN, NOW!!!" Dumbledore boomed. I almost jumped out of my plastic chair, nerves shot to sh*t. I have a problem ...

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There's nothing more sexist than The Sun pulling Page 3 Girls...

Yes... SEXIST. If only for what's being said around the decision to drop this whole thing! "Instead of bare breasts, the pictures will now show scantily-clad ...

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I SURVIVED: The Freak British Tornado (and the suspect still running loose)

A mini-tornado hit north west London this afternoon - causing damage to homes and cars. I think I summoned it. I was thinking very dark ...

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It's cover reveal day for Before He Was A Secret. Exclusive excerpt here...

Today's the day, whoo hoooooo! I can finally reveal another amazing cover by designer Jeanine Henning, for the third standalone romance in my Starstruck Series, ...

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The night Emma Watson stole my toothbrush...

WARNING!!! I feel like I should say something. I've been quiet for way too long... almost an hour actually, but about an hour ago I ...

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Vaginal smoking and the benefits of yoni egg insertions (note: there are many)...

I have recently become quite fascinated with vaginal treatments. The fascination began when I saw this tempting advertisement on a board outside a spa in ...

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The truth about 'Ecstatic Dancing' at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali... (warning, this post may smell)

Everyone in Ubud knows the Yoga Barn. It's a sort of second home for eager expats, all of whom are quite happy to spend an ...

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Becky Wicks and Sarah Alderson talk self-publishing versus mainstream. Today’s topic: How to design a good book cover

Before He Was FamousIn this instalment from the world of self-publishing versus mainstream, Becky Wicks and Sarah Alderson talk how to get a good book cover.

Cover design is one of the most important elements of a book’s success. A good cover can make a book. A bad cover can send it spiraling into the abyss. Sarah, you’ve been through the book cover design process about fifteen times now both on your own and with publishers. Anything to tell us?

Well, publishing houses don’t tend to involve the author very much in the design of the cover and I think that’s for a good reason. Authors write, they aren’t necessarily design experts. They also test the cover with target audiences and have much more knowledge of which covers work for which genres. I am always asked for my opinion and any ideas, but I don’t have veto on the final design. The publisher has final say. For Come Back To Me, my new adult book, Pan Macmillan are being really great and involving me in choosing the cover image. They sent six images over for me to choose from and my agent and I both agreed on the one we wanted so now they’ll take it from there.

In self-publishing you have a lot more control and can get the cover you really want but it will cost you.

Publishers have access to stock images at cheap prices and also to talented book designers. Of course, you could pay for a great book designer to design your cover but it’s going to cost you. A lot. The covers for my self-published books are much weaker because I had to weigh up the costs of a cover against likely return and make a call on whether it was worth it.

16080353It’s tricky because nothing yells ‘self-published’ more than a shoddy cover (I know, I’ve self-published four books) so you need to make it as professional-looking as possible. Remember you are probably only making around $1 royalty on an ebook so that’s a lot of sales just to pay for the cover (the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies I believe). Having said that with a great cover you vastly increase your chances of selling more than the average. It’s a tough call!  Reviews I think are ultimately more important that the cover.

I’m lucky in that I’m married to a designer so I have coerced him into designing a couple of my book covers. I also did one myself (for an erotica I wrote under a pen name) and I paid about $30 for the image on stock vault.

When looking at designing your cover I think the best thing to do is search out the top selling books in the genre and study their covers. Bookmark all the ones that appeal to you and if you use a designer be sure to brief them really well on what you like and don’t like because unfortunately most people DO judge a book by its cover.

What about you, Becky? How do you feel about cover design for your books? 

When HarperCollins sent my first cover back to me for Burqalicious, I remember thinking WOW.

It was so shiny, it almost looked like it was made from solid gold, but there was a cartoon version of myself on it that I thought was strange. But like you, I felt so totally awestruck and grateful that a major publisher was doing such amazing things for me that I never even thought to question anything. Mind you though, the name Burqalicious was not my initial title. I called that book ‘The Dubai Diaries’ as I’d written it over the course of two years in Dubai. The publishers decided that Burqalicious would be a better name. I was actually quite mortified by that. I did question that… but I was told I couldn’t change it.

COV_Latinalicious_smallAnyway, by the time ‘Balilicious’ (my second book) came around I had grown to quite like the ‘licious thing, as the cartoony characters really stood out, and I guess the titles were catchy. I was shown a couple of design options which I thought were all brilliant as my designer was really great, but when I requested minor changes I never got to see these changes for weeks because I guess she had a list of books to work on. By the time Latinalicious came around I was pretty much resigned to the fact that it was a third book in the ‘licious trilogy and it would again feature a cartoon version of myself. I didn’t question anything. I was shown some designs and again didn’t see or hear anything back for quite a long time after I selected one.

With my books now, as I go through the self-publishing process, I found a highly recommended cover designer via a Twitter link, or all places!

My designer now is Jeanine Henning and she’s worked with me for the entire process of designing the cover for Before He Was Famous, offering daily communication. I’m sure there are a lot of very talented designers out there, and there are some who do a great job for specific genres, but I knew straight away that I wanted to work with Jeanine. She actually had me answer a set of very detailed questions outlining my characters, story line, plot twists etc, so as to determine a very clear picture of what the book stood for before she started.

15740944She used this to throw suggestions my way and within days we had a rough design. She’s super experienced in designing covers that stand out online as thumbnails when you’re scrolling through Amazon. At first I wasn’t so sure about the font, but it really stands out in a list of smaller-mages, and that’s something I wouldn’t have contemplated without her help. I was so impressed by the detailing and her dedication to her job, and felt hugely gratefl to finally be fully involved in the design process of a story I worked so hard to write.

After spending so long writing a book, you do become attached to the people in it, and bringing them to life on the cover is kind of something you need to feel a part of.

I’m sure HarperCollins worked just as hard and were just as dedicated, it’s just that they were busy with a hundred covers and I was never informed along the way what was going on, so I felt a bit shut out. Sometimes I’d wait weeks, or even months between communications. There are pros and cons I guess, but I have to say, it’s way more exciting doing it myself. I get such an adrenaline rush when I open an email from Jeanine on a newly improved design and we have great Twitter and email banter too, which makes it even more fun. Jeanine also took the design and made me Facebook and Twitter banners, and an email signature, which looks awesome.

What should you look out for when designing a book cover?

  • make sure that the image and title are clearly readable in a thumbnail
  • make sure that the font you use is readable
  • use the highest resolution image you can obtain (although the new Twitter banner will pixelate this anyway!)
  • check createspace and Kindle to ensure you size the covers correctly

We’ll be back soon with more chat on our journey into mainstream publishing versus self-publishing. Stay tuned! Check out our first article on why you should choose self-publishing over mainstream here.

Becky’s book ‘Before He Was Famous’ will be launching May 29th on Amazon. Add it to read on Goodreads now.

Sarah’s book ‘Come Back To Me’ will be released June 26th on Amazon. Add it to Goodreads now.

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