Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations
As queen bees of the JustRead hive (aka owners of JustRead Publicity Tours) and avid readers, we’ve learned a thing or two about sweet reads and sticky situations. We want to help you avoid common book cover blunders and ensure your readers aren’t confused or even deterred by a sticky situation.
Generally, authors will either have DIY, outsourced, or a publisher-directed cover design process. While this article is written primarily with independently publishing (or hybrid) authors in mind, the concepts are important for all authors to consider. Whether you are creating your own cover or conveying your vision to others, the goal is for the heart of your story (or nonfiction content) to shine through the cover.
Research book covers that are selling or trending in your book’s genre and subgenre, making note of images, design styles, fonts, and colors. Once you’ve identified design elements that work well for your genre, focus on reflecting the heart of your story within your author branding and genre trends.
Even the pros utilize stock illustrations and images but check to see if your selections are already being used on another book cover. Layering multiple images is one way to create a more unique cover but make sure proportions and blending are natural.
We love fonts but readability is key. Two different typefaces on a cover (sometimes three) are acceptable as long as the placement is mindful. Whimsical and script fonts are especially tricky but they pack a visual punch when used in moderation and/or paired with a simple clean font.
Stick to your budget and timeline. Don’t wait too long to finalize your cover or make last-minute changes, delays could end up costing you more. Compromise is common during the cover design process but be willing to stick to it and keep the lines of communication open rather than settling for a cover that doesn’t fit.
Encouragement for DIYers
You can successfully create your own book cover with thorough research, more research, and the popper tools! Creating an appealing cover on Canva, Picmonkey, or other free or low-cost design platforms is possible. Many of these tools even provide book cover templates and it’s a great way to get the ball rolling for cover mock-ups and even final cover designs. Be sure to ask a few trusted and experienced confidantes for their opinion on your work but don’t stress over trying to please everyone.
Cover Design Pros
If your budget allows, we definitely recommend working with a cover designer. Choose a professional who has created covers you love. We love so many covers including those designed by Roseanna White, Teresa Tysinger, Hillary Lodge, Sarah Monzon, Emilie Hendryx, and more! Please feel free to give a shoutout to your favorite cover designers in the comments. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth post on working with a cover designer in the future.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
It’s a nice sentiment but the truth is that the cover is the first glimpse a reader has of the content within. Book covers set the stage just as words pull back the curtains on the wonderful experience we share through stories, devotionals, and nonfiction accounts. Readers are going to judge book covers so let’s embrace that and maximize their impact positively.
Can you name some genre-specific design features? Does a certain cover style grab your attention? Carrie, Beth, and Rachel would love to chat about your favorite cover trends in the comments!
JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC is a full-service publicity tour company for published works in the Christian genre or books considered within the wholesome or clean reads genres.
Journeys of Faith: The Road to Finding God with guest Jennifer L. Wright
Please welcome guest Jennifer L. Wright as she shares a bit of her writing and faith journey with us.
I have always wanted to be a writer.
Even from a young age, I had a love of books, and I wrote my first “novel” in the seventh grade. For the longest time, I believed my future lay in journalism, but it took only a few short months of working local news to realize it wasn’t a good fit for me. After my son was born and I became a full-time stay-at-home mom, I decided it was time to take my passion in another direction: I was going to write a book.
So I did. Then I wrote another one. And another one.
But none of these novels went anywhere. I couldn’t get a publishing deal. I couldn’t get an agent. I couldn’t even to find someone outside my family to read my writing.
I knew—just knew—writing was what God had called me to do. It was the only thing I’d ever felt drawn to, passionate about, inescapably bound to pursue. But if this was God’s plan for me, then why was every door slamming in my face?
One particularly depressing day, I found myself at my kitchen table, Bible open in front of me, tears streaming down my face. I’d received another pass from an agent I’d been so sure was the one. Another false start. Another dashed hope.
It had now been six years since I’d begun my writing journey. Six years of constant disappointment, heartache, and rejection. The secular marketplace was looking for particular types of books—and they were not the books I was trying to write. I wanted to believe I wasn’t wrong, that I hadn’t misinterpreted God’s calling for me, but my spirit was crushed beneath the weight of my own failure. Surely God’s plan wouldn’t involve this much pain, right? I was at a crossroads; I could no longer continue down this path, and yet neither carrying on nor quitting seemed to be the right answer.
And then a voice answered me from inside my head, so loud, clear, and concise—so different from the muddled indecision clouding my brain—that I froze.
If you’ve never had a moment with God like this, I don’t expect you to understand. But I knew I was hearing His voice. He had met me in my pit. He had heard. And He had responded in a way I had never experienced before.
And so I did. I kept writing. I kept querying. I kept waiting.
Three more years went by . . . and still I was waiting. During that time, I had more rejections, more heartaches, more disappointments. But I remained steadfast, buoyed by the memory of that long-ago encounter. I knew I had heard God’s voice; doubt wasn’t the issue. Instead, my grief manifested itself as something else: impatience.
Sometimes, even with the assurance of God’s promises, we can grow impatient and irritated by what we see is a lack of action on His part. You said You were going to do this, Lord. So . . . when?
Or in the words of David, “How long?”
In Psalm 13, David writes: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (verses 1-2).
In just two verses, David asks “How long?” four times. The man had been anointed by Samuel, destined for kingship . . . and yet fifteen to twenty years had passed. In his waiting, he was pursued and persecuted, chased into the wilderness and hidden in a cave, fearing for his life. It was such a stark contrast: his eyes were on the palace, but his body remained in a pasture.
But it was precisely in this waiting where David became equipped to become king. His courage was tested. His character was refined. His faith was strengthened. Faced with what could have very easily been perceived as at best inaction and at worst faithlessness on the part of his God, David chose to lean in to what he knew to be true instead: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6).
David couldn’t see an end to his waiting. He couldn’t see how this seemingly unwinnable situation would play out. And he certainly couldn’t see how he would ever move from a cave to a throne.
What he could see, however, was God.
Our waiting can often bring forth a type of “spiritual amnesia” where our present circumstances overshadow the ways in which God has been faithful, not only to His people, but to us personally in the past. During those years between that fateful morning prayer and when I finally signed with agent, I was tempted many times to discredit what I knew to be God’s voice. Leaning in to what I knew to be true about who He is and reminders of His past goodness were the only remedies for a present that didn’t feel quite so good.
God loves me . . . and He has told me to wait.
God has a plan for me . . . and He has told me to wait.
God has delivered me in the past . . . and He has told me to wait.
God is faithful, merciful, all-knowing, and all-powerful . . . and He has told me to wait.
My debut novel, If It Rains, will be released July 6 from Tyndale House Publishers—a full ten years after my writing journey began and four years after that fateful morning in which God told me to wait. I will not sugarcoat the experience—it was brutal. And yet, holding my first published novel in my hands, I can so clearly see how God used the experience to ready my heart. Ten years ago, I wasn’t ready for the plans and purposes He had for me. He used this time not only to grow me as a writer but to strengthen my faith and mature my spirit for this moment.
Because this experience wasn’t just about finding a publisher. It was about finding Him.
What about you? Is there something you’ve been waiting for? You may not experience God’s voice the way I did that morning, but you can rest assured that He is just as much there with you as He was with me. Don’t let your impatience or frustration in your waiting distract you from the answer you’ve already received: Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who sees every tear, hears every cry, knows every longing. As we struggle through our waits, never knowing when or how or if the deepest desires will be fulfilled, we can still find peace in the arms of the Savior. By focusing our eyes on the God who holds our past, present, and future in His hands, we can boldly proclaim the words of David, who, while still in his waiting, penned this verse:
“I am still confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer L. Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun.
A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home. She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, and one rambunctious dachshund.
Visit her website.
ABOUT THE BOOK
If It Rains by Jennifer L. Wright (Tyndale, July 2021)
It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home. Learn more...
Persistence in Writing and Learning to Accept Critiques with guest Janice Cantore
I’m often asked how long it took for me to get my first book published. It was a long time—seven years—and there were many rejections before I saw my first novel on a bookstore shelf. Two lessons I learned from the process: (1) keep writing and (2) learn to accept critiques.
#1 Keep writing.
I’ve talked to enough Christian writers who feel called to writing, whether it be devotional, fiction, nonfiction, or for the secular market, to know that rejections sometimes hit them in their faith. I don’t mean their faith in God; I mean they begin to wonder if writing is their gift after all, or if maybe they should be doing something else. If that’s the case, keep writing, no matter the rejections. I’m not saying ignore the rejections. Hopefully, you’ve received feedback to help you improve. What I am saying is you can’t edit a blank page. If this is your calling, you’re not going to be happy not writing. Quitting because someone said no will simply make you miserable.
No one ever told me that getting published was going to be easy. All I knew was that I had to write. I just kept at it. And I’ve never met a writer who said that since they believed it was their calling, every page came out perfect the first time. Great writers work at their craft.
#2 Learn to accept critiques.
My first book was rejected multiple times before a paid reader pointed out a major flaw in the first chapter. I’m glad I didn’t quit and that I accepted the criticism and fixed the flaw. I had a book contract a month later.
Don’t take rejection personally. Try to look at any criticism objectively. I sometimes think the writing process is a mess. I use so much ink and so many pages of paper before I get to the point where I think the book is ready. Then I send it to the editor, and it comes back all marked up with changes that have been made and notes about more changes that need to be made. Sometimes at first pass I don’t agree with the editor about what needs to be edited. And then after a few more passes, I realize that she’s right, and the changes make the book stronger. Most critiques are made to help you improve, not to destroy you.
In the police academy there were many reasons people quit. Some could not meet the physical standards. Some realized that wearing a uniform would make them a target. Others maybe realized that carrying a gun might mean they’d have to take a life one day. I just remember being glad I stuck it out, that when I completed the academy and was sworn in, I truly felt I’d accomplished something special. In reality, the work had only just begun, but that is another story.
It was the same with writing. When that first contract came, I was so gratified that I had stuck with it. It was such an exciting rush to see my words in print. And truly, the work had only just begun.
If writing is what you must do, keep at it. Read about writing, go to conferences, learn your craft. Absorb good critiques and forget bad ones. Keep writing, keep editing, don’t give up easily, and never give up if it is your dream.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Breach of Honor, releases in July.
Website | Facebook | Romantic Suspense A-Team Facebook Group
ABOUT THE BOOK
Breach of Honor by Janice Cantore (Tyndale, July 2021)
Though public opinion seems ready to convict Leah, Officer Clint Tanner is one of the few to believe she acted in self-defense. As he works with Leah’s attorney to produce the evidence they need, new truths about Brad’s dark side come to light—and reveal a deep-rooted problem in Table Rock. There are some who have breached their sworn duty to serve and protect . . . and they’ll do anything to keep their secret safe. Learn more...
Organization: What Works for Me
Regardless of who you are or what you do, life is a multifaceted gig. We all allocate time for faith, finances, loved ones, home, health, and the list goes on and on and on. Some confidently refer to this balance as donning many hats, some say it feels like a juggling act, others may reference the more hazardous act of spinning plates, and then there’s one of my personal favorites, herding cats. Let’s face it, even if we manage to get our ducks in a row, those little quackers are going to waddle, swim, and fly away at times.
As I finally dive into writing this post less than 12 hours before it’s scheduled to go live, allow me to assure you that I do not have all the answers. What I do have is a commitment to flexibility, streamlining, and giving myself grace plus a few tools that help me manage life in a manner that is a little bit less stressful. So grab your hats, plates, cats, and ducks as we dive into the act of ordering our chaos!
Side note: While we primarily use Microsoft & Google products, Apple, Amazon, etc. have similar products with similar features. If you want to go old school, you might use a traditional kitchen timer or alarm clock, a wall calendar, and a message board to keep your daily routine rolling. Secondly, I try not to obsess over the whole “big brother is listening to/watching everything we do” factor. The way I figure, that factor came into play way before smartphones entered the picture so we might as well get all the help we can out of our nosey technology.
Professionally, we at JustRead Publicity Tours use a variety of tools to manage the four to six campaigns we organize 47 weeks out of the year. For those who aren't familiar with us, JustRead has three owners (Carrie in Georgia, Rachel in Washington, and I am in Illinois) and an entire hive of wonderful volunteer book bees! Google is again a large part of the organizational equation but for the three of us, managing multiple projects and business matters as a team calls for the addition of a task management program.
While there are several options available (Monday.com, Wrike, SmartSheet, etc.), we’re currently loving Asana for its versatility, functionality, and rainbows (because we all need more rainbows). Even though we chose to go with the upgraded features of a paid plan, the free version worked well for us during our transition from the last program we used. Other tools such as Trello are also good options for managing multiple projects and even collaborating with others.
Enough about me, let’s get back to you!
Most importantly, I want to encourage you to find an approach to organizing that makes sense for you. The most sophisticated program can’t compete with consistent old school methods if utilizing technology isn’t your thing. If sticky notes on the refrigerator work for you, do that! A bit of organization should make your life LESS stressful, never more stressful.
K.I.S.S. your chaos. “Keep It Simple, Silly!” The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you’re like me and have a hard time switching gears between different roles, don’t try to do all the things at once. Focus on one project for an hour or even a day at a time.
Give yourself grace. Some of us may have superpowers but most of us don’t. Our chaos gets a little out of control and we roll with the punches. Don’t allow pride or shame to keep you from asking for an extension or assistance when you need to.
Beth Erin is a happy wife, a busy homeschooling mama of four, an owner of JustRead Publicity Tours, and a Christian fiction enthusiast. You'll occasionally find her on Faithfully Bookish and on social media but mostly she's striving to balance all things work and home. Beth is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. If none of the above was helpful in a practical way, she hopes that it at least made you smile.
5 Reasons Why the Third MacDonald Novel was Worth Waiting For
Publishing isn’t a smooth process on the best of days but rarely does a book go through as many changes and delays as Under Scottish Stars, the final book in my MacDonald Family Trilogy. It was initially scheduled to be released in June 2016, but the original publisher was in the process of closing down its fiction line. At the same time, I signed a contract with Tyndale House, who saw the opportunity to bring the entire series over and release the book themselves.
That came with an entirely new set of challenges, from repackaging and re-releasing the first two books in the series to redesigning covers and interiors, a multiyear process. But at long last, Under Scottish Stars has made it into readers’ hands, a full four years after its initial intended release. Which begs the question: was it worth the wait?
You might guess that I’m biased, so of course I’m going to say yes. But I can say that this is my favorite of the three MacDonald Family books, and there are five reasons it may be a contender for readers’ favorite as well.
1. Malcolm Blake gives James MacDonald a run for his money in the hero department.
James MacDonald from Five Days in Skye seems to be a perennial hero favorite among my readers, and really, I can’t blame them. James is handsome, charming, rich, can cook like nobody’s business, and he’s a celebrity. But for those who like their book boyfriends a little more down-to-earth (but no less sexy), Malcolm fits the bill. His roots are humbler and his wardrobe far less flashy, but he’s intelligent, caring, and secretly a little nerdy. Oh, and did I mention he’s a boxer? Case closed.
2. Serena MacDonald Stewart is a heroine we can all relate to.
We can’t all be high-powered businesswomen like Andrea from Five Days in Skye or globetrotting photojournalists like Grace in London Tides, but we can probably all relate to Serena: single mum and unintentional collector of many bad dates. She’s just trying to get over the trauma of a not-so-great marriage that ended in tragedy, raise well-adjusted kids, and do right by the family business. If that means her own wants and desires, including her passion for art, fall by the wayside, so be it. (Sound like anyone you know?)
3. We finally get closure on what happens to the other characters in the series.
When I write a series, I’ve been asked why I don’t write epilogues to the earlier books, and that’s because the stories of the first couples always carry through to the last book. Wonder what happened to James and Andrea after they said “I do” in book two? Wonder if Grace and Ian were ever able to overcome their bicontinental lifestyle and rocky beginnings? Under Scottish Stars addresses all that and more along the way, with a really sweet epilogue that makes me feel satisfied that I’ve delivered everyone their happily-ever-afters. (Because come on, we all know there will be a happily ever after, we just don’t know how we’re going to get there . . . it’s the best part about romance novels.)
4. This book is an ode to the difficult, humbling, and worthwhile job of motherhood, especially single motherhood.
I don’t often read single-parent romances, and when I do, the kids are usually an afterthought. I wanted to do something completely different with Under Scottish Stars and give a realistic look into what it’s like to parent young children . . . and what it would be like to consider bringing a new man into their lives, with all of the worry and responsibility that entails. Single non-parents need not worry—there’s plenty of toe-tingling romance present . . . because motherhood doesn’t mean an end to romance. There is nothing more attractive than seeing your partner become a good father.
5. Even after five years, I still get weekly (sometimes angry) messages asking about this book’s release.
Not joking. Since London Tides, I’ve answered weekly messages about the expected release of this book and have been accused of everything from holding it back to be cruel to holding it back to make more money. (I still haven’t figured out how that last one works.) But honestly . . . if the love of the first two books has endured long enough to still generate that much anticipation and angst, you can’t not read it. Right?
All kidding aside, I’m thrilled to finally get the third MacDonald book into the hands of readers, and I hope they love it as much as I do. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking to release a book that is as highly anticipated as this book has been, because once it’s released to the world, it no longer belongs to me. If nothing else, the release of this book five years after it was written shows the full breadth of perseverance and determination that’s required by publishing. I’m just happy to have both industry partners and readers who were willing to go along for the ride.
A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.
Visit her website and connect with Carla on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
How Writing is Like Raising Kittens
|Day 1. They would not be still.|
|Mimi & Cha-Cha|
|Cha-Cha (It's possible Cha-Cha is a boy.... hmmm)|
|The Best-Ever Kitten Sitter (and Namer)|
|2nd Best Kitten Sitter|
|Cha-Cha in a Milk Coma|
5 Bookish Love Languages
Happy Valentine’s Day, Seekervillagers! In honor of this lovey-dovey holiday, let’s discuss ways we can spread the book love and effectively convey our affections to all our bookish loved ones!
“Your Bookstagram feed is a work of art!” – for all your favorite book-obsessed Instagram friends
“I love the way you’ve reorganized your bookshelves (again)!” – this one works in person or for shelfies!
“You are so beautiful when you’re reading!” – for your significant other (or things could get awkward and I’m an introvert, I know awkward)
“Your book touched my heart!” – for your favorite authors (they are hard on themselves and need the encouragement)
“This book is fabulous!” – for random bookish people reading your review on Goodreads, BookBub, or any retail site
“Your book blog rocks my socks off!” – for your favorite book bloggers (they work hard too, y’all)
“I love the variety of books you’re carrying lately!” – for your favorite bookseller
“Your new featured books display is lovely!” – for your local librarian
Any and all household chores are excellent candidates for freeing up a little time for story.
Taxes, bill paying, errand-running, grocery shopping… all things that you can do for a loved one who would #ratherbereading because #somanybookssolittletime or #ratherbewriting because #thevoicesarecalling
Bring your favorite bookworm a warm cuppa or yummy snack while they are reading or writing (without dragging them out of the storyworld, just set it down and back away) if the book is especially good, include something more substantial like a meal
Protect their reading time from interruptions (children, phone calls, needy pets, endless cellphone notifications… it’s a lot, just do your best and your reader or writer will appreciate the effort)
Book sleeves, bookshelves, bookmarks, bookish apparel, bookish décor, fingerless gloves, office supplies, bookish candles, mugs, blankets, ereaders (and accessories like covers or screen protectors, chargers, etc.), gift cards for guilt-free ebook splurging or book hauling!
Bookish TimeSpend quality time with your loved one while engaging in bookish activities (or just be present for the downtime).
Go to the bookstore or library or cozy coffee shop!
Travel to a favorite book setting (bonus points for excellent audiobooks during the drive).
Tag along for a reader/writer event (bonus points for carrying the book haul with a smile).
Ask your favorite bookworm to tell you all about their favorite books... then settle in because that conversation is going to take a while.
Whether paperback or hardcover, the weight and feel of a print book in the hands of a book lover is surpassed only by the weight and feel of a stack of books in the hands of a book lover.
Create a cozy reading environment with a comfy seat and blanket.
Cuddle up with your main squeeze and a good book!
Bonus Book LoveThat’s right, I’m talking about loving your books… for a hardcore book lover, loving books is therapeutic!
Show your books a little love by dusting, reorganizing (even splurge for new shelves), rereading, apologizing for bent covers/dog eared pages/dropping into dirt or water, reclaiming from forgetful friends (or former friends depending on the condition of said book), taking your books on vacation or sending them with a friend (books deserve to get out every now and then too), telling everyone who will listen and maybe a few who won’t just how much you love your books!
The Five Love Languages, just in case you haven’t heard of this fabulous series of books and its resource-filled website, it’s truly a game-changer!
Sincere thanks to my book sisters for brainstorming this post with me and providing feedback on the four different versions of graphics I created for it. That is love, my friends!
The Facts and Fallacies of Being a Writer
by Mindy Obenhaus
So you want to be a writer? Or, maybe, you’re just curious about writers. From the outside looking in, being a writer seems so glamorous. Once upon a time, before I was published or really knew much about writing, I envisioned myself in my beautiful, always-clean office, pecking out thousands of words each day, uninterrupted, with so many ideas in my head there just wasn’t time to do it all.
Fallacy #3 – Writers can’t NOT write
Recapping RWA19 With a Little Help From Some Friends
The question was simple: What was your favorite part of being at RWA19?
Here are the answers in no particular order:
Starting with Seekerville's own Debby Giusti:
Debby sent me so many wonderful photos.
Villager Tanya Agler had this to say:
|Harlequin Book Signing|
|Amish Authors Lunch|
|The Famous Harlequin Dance Party|
|Dana and Lee on the train - for 8 hours!|
“The best part of the RWA conference was reconnecting in person with my writer friends. No one “gets” writers better than other writers. I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with my editor to learn what’s new in this ever-changing industry. I arrived home with fresh story ideas and renewed energy to write.”
(Note: some books are only available as eBooks, so please let us know if you can't read them.)