GetCovers: Will Use Again

A Facebook acquaintence suggested I try GetCovers in my quest to see how a new cover affects sales of my two earlier horse mysteries, King of the Roses and Blood Lies. The price was astonishing, to say the least: $35 for the ebook and paperback package. Certainly worth a try!

GetCovers is part of the “Miblgroup family of brands,” which, my author friend wrote on FB, has a somewhat pricier line of covers, but one that is still highly affordable (starting at $100). It would be interesting to know how the services differ: for example, whether the extra expense gives you access to a different group of designers, perhaps with more experience. Anyone know?

I can report that the experience was positive. A major plus: they were fast. I received my first drafts within a week, and subsequent revisions arrived within a few days. The final cover for King of the Roses (below) was okay, well worth a try to see if it earns more clicks in my ad campaigns. After an off-base first submission (the persona of the woman was too cruel and scheming), I supplied the image of the woman; this is the same image as the one on the prior King of the Roses cover, though that designer did some tweaking to soften the woman’s stare a little.

The only indication I had that the designer was just possibly inexperienced occurred in the back-cover text. In the first paperback submission, the first short paragraph contained multiple hyphenations. I indicated that I’d rather not have hyphenations in this short text and suggested centering the blurb to remove them. In the next submission, the text had been centered, removing hyphenation from the top paragraph—but introducing it into the second! I suggested using strategic returns as necessary to force the breaks to appear between words rather than inside them. I believe the final version used spacing to achieve the necessary result.

Because the process was so quick, these corrections took only a single weekend.

In any case, I will go back to GetCovers for an experimental revision to my Blood Lies cover. At such a reasonable price, I can afford to give it a try.


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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Money issues for writers, Paperback indie publishing, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Publishing, Self-publishing, writing novels

Want a “Real” Book? Finally, Here It Is!

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March 24, 2023 · 12:43 pm

Just Clicked Paperback “Publish”!

Three Strides Out soon to be available in paperback!

The Amazon sages have to deliver final judgment, but the proof looked fine, so I’m assuming I’ll pass muster.

I’ll post some pyrotechnics once the paperback is live.

In the meantime, if anyone reading this is thinking of paying a “packager” even a few hundred dollars to “publish” a book, whether an ebook or a paperback: THINK HARD before committing your cash. Yes, it takes a bit of time and some hassle to format your own books. But you don’t have to pay for this!

Of course, if you can write three new books in your best-selling series in the time you spend making formatting decisions and wrestling with templates, then the arithmetic comes out different. But like everything else, as you repeat a process it becomes easier and goes faster. In any case, don’t hire a packager because you think you can’t do it without one. You can.

Publishing success is like a sunny day

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Paperback PDF and Cover for Three Strides Out Uploaded!

It took longer than it should—no surprise there. I kept getting an error message in my ISBN block. I asked for an Amazon callback and got an immediate response. Turns out that the “imprint” I was supposed to enter meant my name as publisher, although what it said was to enter where you bought your ISBN, which was Bowker. Danielle, my Amazon helper, was incredibly patient, waited with me until both the pdf and the cover were successfully uploaded.

This will teach me to wait so long between books. If it hadn’t been so long since I uploaded my paperback files for King of the Roses, I might remember more of the process.

I reviewed page-by-page in the Previewer, but have ordered a proof copy. When I get a look at it, I will announce

silhouettes of runners breaking free of barriers


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Kentucky Derby Season: A Derby Mystery with All the Sadness and Hope. . .

FREE till Sunday for Smashwords Read-an-eBook Sale!

“I used to think Dick Francis had no peer. Now I’m not so certain.”

The Maryland Horse

“The Derby is run in less time than it takes to describe it—but the description itself is one of the most exciting whodunit chapters you’re ever likely to come across.”

San Diego Magazine

And my readers on Amazon say:

“The author knows her life on the backside, and it is great to read a book using horses and the racetrack that is so very real to actual situations!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and give it 5 STARS as a great read.”

“As someone who has trained and ridden race horses myself, I found this story to be riveting and all too accurate. The author gives a clear portrayal of the world of horse racing, of the pressures put on trainers, jockeys, and others who have access to the horses. I was glad to see the author portrayed the horses as living thinking beings with hearts and above all, honesty. The plot is complex as are the stories on the track, and I have no hesitation in recommending this work.”

For more on my books, visit and sign up for my newsletter!

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Reasonably Priced Covers?

Big word "book" in "letterpress."

For those interested in my experiences this time around in my self-publishing career, here’s a report on some options for reasonably priced covers. I submit this after having spent $600 for a cover I really didn’t like. I played around with designing my own cover for Three Strides Out, my new horse mystery, but was told by (possibly) qualified critics that my efforts didn’t “look professional.” Sigh.

I clicked on a coupon offer from WPBeginner for half off at 100Covers and submitted my book details. The basic price for an ebook cover is $100. For $200, you get both ebook and paperback cover.

The final 100Covers design met my needs; that the book is picking up more orders than my older titles may be due to the “new” factor, but it could also be that the cover is inviting. It definitely got WOW responses from friends and colleagues I tested it on.

I would give 100Covers 3.75 stars. The one-quarter star deduction reflects the number of tries to get the designer (whom I could not contact directly) to understand what seemed to me a pretty basic request: more horse, less woman. However, I suspect that any interaction with a designer requires multiple explanations of just what kind of focus the cover should have.

Books leading to a door in a brick wall

The other star reflects the fact that I wouldn’t recommend the site for anyone with a looming deadline. First contact from a “project manager” was prompt, and the first drafts arrived within two weeks, a reasonable amount of time. The cover proposals were pretty far from what I’d hoped to see, so I sent what I thought was a specific request for a refocus. I waited three weeks for the next drafts. This did seem to me to be an unusual amount of time for a project which felt as if it should have migrated to the top of the pile. The second set of drafts, oddly, did not respond at all to my feedback despite my having sent some iStock images that illustrated more of what I was hoping for. A firm re-emphasis on “more horse, less woman” led, I must say, to a very prompt third draft, which, with tweaks, is now my much-liked cover.

I have submitted my request for the paperback files; I will report on that process when it’s done.

Writing this, I now provisionally revise my rating to 4 out of 5 stars, with the delay in the middle of negotiations accounting for 0.75% of the star. Bottom line: I am thinking of asking for proposals for 100Covers revisions of my current covers for my other books. I’m on no deadline; I’d be curious to see if new covers perked up sales on those titles, and my experience was positive enough to go back for more.

pile of letters for writing

In the meantime, a Facebook friend recommended MIBLART and GetCovers, both of which are also extremely reasonable, especially GetCovers. MIBLART looks as if its focus is fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal, but my friend assures me the site can produce in a number of genres. I’m wondering if anyone reading this has experience with either of these, or has other recommendations. (I am not particularly interested in “ready-made” covers, though I know they work well for many writers.)

So please share!

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I’m feeling a little guilty. . . .

About my last title. Fact is, almost all the tech sites I’ve been “battling” with in one way or another respond promptly and thoroughly and patiently to cries for help. Draft2Digital came back within just a few hours with a fix for my main problem. I’ve had excellent support from MailerLite as well, and generous help from both Amazon and Smashwords. My “battle” was mainly with the template’s determination to do things its way, and I now know that about templates (similar experience with Amazon’s paperback-interior templates—finally went with the blank to get the right margins and less interference but still found simpler is better).

The only thing I can say about the support structure is that the online FAQs and databases almost never answer my specific questions, leading to my need to find the email screen where I can ask for the fixes I need.

So don’t hold my mistakes against any of the platforms I discuss. The learning curves are real, but the help is excellent so far.

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I fought Draft2Digital and won!

In keeping with my plan to post on my experiences as I publish and learn to market a new book (after too long!), I’m sharing my recent experiences with the kind of basic stuff I’m sure most folks don’t need to be told about. But maybe somebody out there will understand the learning curves involved and will either find my struggles familiar or will point me in the right direction as I take many wrong turns.

SEO for writers

I realized at long last that if I was going to start a newsletter, which I am assured I must do, I needed to be able to upload digital files, that is, epubs and mobis as well as the standard pdfs. A little bit of exploration suggested to me that a basic Draft2Digital account would allow me to convert my Word files into these formats.

Yes, I found I could download files from Smashwords, but when I did so, they opened in an iBooks folder that did not allow me to upload the latest version. Moreover, I wanted the Amazon files as well as the Smashwords files. Creating and downloading the D2D files to a dedicated folder, where I could verify the dates and versions, seemed like a good idea.

(Here’s where I suspect experts know how to move files to my desktop from the iBooks program that opens them.)

Books as stairs to publishing success

As I began work on uploading my Word text to D2D, I confirmed what I had already begun to expect from working on my paperback interior for my new book: templates promise easy formatting—IF you can stop them from wrestling you to the mat and beating all hope out of you!

Okay, hyperbole. But what I discovered was that the only way to make a D2D template work on the first or hopefully at least the second try is to strip all that fancy formatting you did in hopes of making your book look as if it has been traditionally published rather than a homemade little orphan.

Following the instructions exactly is a start. I had set up my TOC using bookmarks and anchors, but unfortunately, I hadn’t bookmarked the chapter titles (Chapter 1, etc.) but rather first words of chapters. D2D read my first paragraphs as chapter titles and converted them all to Heading 1 font. Grim.

I learned about this mistake by emailing for help. The great news is that the help came almost immediately in a detailed and sympathetic response email. Rather than rebookmark and reanchor 44 chapters plus an epilogue, I converted all chapter titles to Heading 1 as suggested. However, my work at customizing the Heading 1 style—for example, to all-caps—was wasted. The D2D template made the font decisions for me, in the process introducing formatting errors in the TOC that took me six uploads to correct.

Equally maddening was that D2D can’t recognize such frivolity as “small caps.” Formatting first lines in first-chapter paragraphs in small caps created leading changes in those first paragraphs. Only plain old Normal with a first-line indent led to a clean upload.

I had already discovered that the little graphics I had tried to insert in an earlier version had to be positioned just so to function the way I envisioned. After two full days of struggling with my new upload, I gave up on the images I had wanted to insert at the beginning of each chapter. By that time, all I wanted was the plain-Jane file. My end-of-book graphics linking to my other books, I am glad to say, did load correctly and do work as I planned.

Moral: when using a template, join it in battle at your peril. In D2D, stay simple. They have their own folderols you can choose if you like.

At least uploading to Bookfunnel was comparatively easy. (Gripes on that front to come.)

Want the free copy of Three Strides Out I’ve complained so mightily over? Here’s the Bookfunnel link. You’ll have to leave me an email address so I can see where the free books I’m hoping to use for reviews are going, but you don’t have to sign up for anything—assuming I correctly figured out all the ins and outs of my Bookfunnel landing page. If you run into trouble downloading, write me from my website and I’ll try to figure out how to get a copy to you. Oh, and puhleeeese leave a review!


Filed under book design for creative writers, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, Free Books, indie publishing, Marketing books, Self-publishing, Tech tips for writers, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson

Long Time Gone

It’s hard to believe that it has been only two years since my last visit to this blog. Seems like eons since I abandoned Just Can’t Help Writing to do what I couldn’t help: write a new book and get it out into the world. I’m returning with some news about my latest learning curve–not how to publish an ebook (I already knew how to do that), but my experiences with editing as an indie and my struggles to learn how to market out in the wide book world.

I am not an expert. Not one of those wonderful gurus who can tell you how they have sold hundreds of books a day and YOU CAN TOO! I’m not mocking those gurus. I have learned a terrific amount from them already and will share their names with you. Rather, posts here will recount what’s happening to me as I experiment the way I suspect many indie writers do, and, I hope, collect responses and advice from writers who see how badly I’m messing up and know how they can help.

First task, as I guess anyone can see, is to UPDATE. Some books in new covers, some unpublished, and of course news of my latest, THREE STRIDES OUT: A HORSE SHOW NOVEL OF SUSPENSE (at Amazon and Smashwords) and my newly resituated author website, In addition, I hope to post some account of my adventures once a week and re-establish some old connections.

Let me hear how you are doing if you happen by.

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Fall for Publishing Scams: Look for These Tell-Tale Signs – by Anne R. Allen…

I often see social-media posts from people who want to know how to get their books published. How NOT to get “published,” as explained by Anne R. Allen in this vital post, is where they should start.

So, if you know folks who are working on a book but are new to publishing, send them this article. Now.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

When those “dreams come true” are publishing scams…

Because I have a lot of articles out there on publishing scams, I get frequent messages from writers who fear they’ve been ensnared by a scammer.

I hear even more often from their friends. These friends or relatives see something iffy going on, but don’t want to be the Debbie Downer who brings unnecessary negativity into a hopeful writer’s life.

The friend usually has a reason for being suspicious. Whether the “dream project” is a dodgy anthology, an overpriced no-name contest, a vanity press masquerading as a real publisher, or a junk marketing scheme, a lot of people will have a feeling the project isn’t passing the smell test.

But if they don’t know much about the publishing industry themselves, they hesitate to rain on a newbie writer’s publishing-fantasy parade.

Their writer friend is happy for the first time in forever, floating…

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