Cover Design, and New Disclaimers

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Welcome
* The Writing
* A Few Tips onCover Design
* New Back Matter Novel Disclaimers
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“With the hell that exists all around us, how valuable are a few days of heaven?” Aliya, a significant character in Blackwell Ops 11: More Jeremy Stiles

“Everything is habit-forming, so make sure what you do is what you want to be doing.” Wilt Chamberlain

Hey George K, sound familiar? (grin) Having fun is the key.


Welcome to Katherine and to any other new subscribers or readers of the Journal. I hope you will find it useful.

Be sure to check out the Archives and other free downloads at the Journal website.

And here’s a video where Vin Zandri and I are chatting about writing and a bunch of other stuff.

The Writing

Well, I did no new writing yesterday to speak of. I was going to start a new novel, but I wrote two sentences. It didn’t feel right. Something was off. So I stopped.

Critical mind doesn’t bother me much anymore, but that quiet little voice of the character I had in mind (I still don’t know his name) kept nudging me: Nope—That isn’t the way it starts.

Then I remembered I had received a new 10.1″ tablet in the mail yesterday. I’d never had a tablet, so I set that up.

Then I received my first reader’s always valuable input. I applied most of it, then wrote a little on a passage that confused him. (Russ, it turns out all three mentions were Detroit instead of Bakersfield. Way different. Good catch.)

Then I decided to go ahead and design the cover. It’s purdy. (grin) After I publish this edition of the Journal this morning, I’ll write the brief promo document for Blackwell Ops 11, put the covers and description up on, and put that one to bed.

But another thing I did yesterday was come up with three disclaimers. They’re below. You can use them too if you want. I don’t mind.

But for now, since I talked about creating a cover, I thought I’d offer…

A Few Tips on Cover Design

Be sure the cover conveys the mood or tone of your story (not the story itself). There are only three main areas that are truly essential:

1. Color/Photo — all my covers for the Blackwell Ops (assassins) series are dark.

My cover photos for the Wes Crowley series are western themed. SF themes for SF, and so on. Sometimes the cover pic has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual story. That’s fine.

The only job of the cover is to get the reader to pick your book from among others and read the description.

2. Font Size — This is important. Especially for ebooks, be sure the title and author name are large enough and stand out enough to be read in the thumbnail version.

My titles go almost edge to edge, and so does my name. (You’ll have to adjust those items a bit for trim if you publish to paper.)

3. Fonts — Don’t use more than two different fonts on your cover, and try to keep it to one. If your story is humorous, you might use something like Comic Sans or something similar. You get the idea. My Wes Crowley books use a western-looking font. For all the others I use something like Roboto.

Oh, and if you use ALL  CAPS on the cover for some reason, be sure to add an extra space (so two spaces) after each word. Makes the all-caps easier to read.

Not essential, but smart — If you know anything about print advertizing (well, you will here in a second), try to use the Z rule on your cover.

The title leads the reader’s gaze left to right. From the end of the title, some element of your photo (or a teaser, etc.) should draw the reader’s gaze down and to the left. There, the reader will find your name and finish the Z pattern. All without realizing it.

Here’s the cover I created for Blackwell Ops 11:

The woman’s face is positioned to the left. Notice how the the slope of her left jawline pulls the reader’s gaze to my name.

New Back Matter Novel Disclaimers

Beginning with Blackwell Ops 10, I’m now adding the following disclaimers at the end of each novel, novella or short story:

1. This is a work of fiction, strictly a product of the author’s imagination. Any perceived resemblance or similarity to any actual events or persons, living or dead, and any perceived slights of people, places, or organizations are products of the reader’s imagination. Probably.

2. This fiction is the result of a partnership between a human writer and the character(s) he accessed with his creative subconscious as he raced through the story with them, trying to keep up.

3. In no part is this story the block-by-block, stolen construction of any sort of generative AI or the artificial construction of any conscious, critical, human mind. What you read here is what actually happened there.

As I wrote earlier, feel free to use them yourself if you want to.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

How Can I Set Aside the Cacophany of Writing Advice and Just Write? Wanna say it with me? Let Go, trust yourself and just Write Into the Dark. That isn’t writing advice. It’s anti-writing-advice advice. (grin)

Meet Webster’s New Words Meh. If your characters would use them, use them.

so you want to be a writer? THIS! Sorry. This is just so good.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 910

Writing of Untitled (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for October…………………… 27314
Fiction for 2023………………………… 249582
Fiction since August 1………………… 135035
Nonfiction for October……………… 11330
Nonfiction for the year……………… 209670
Annual consumable words………… 459192

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 4
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 6
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 75
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 234
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.


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