In my previous post about publishing with Water Dragon I mentioned the “support, encouragement, and advice” that authors get with publicity. About a week before the release of the story, I got a link to download some graphics. The folder included the electronic, print, and trade covers plus versions of the cover art carefully composed and resized for my desktop (as “wallpaper”); for my website; and for header graphics for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Creating these kinds of graphics are not necessarily difficult for me. I created my own covers for my self-published books. (And I’m rather proud of the covers I created.) But that stuff all takes time and, without access to the the original files, it wouldn’t be feasible to create re-composed versions at all. But, in the end, it’s just one fewer thing I need to do myself: I can just use them and spend more time publicizing. (Or writing!)
In point of fact, authors frequently don’t get consulted about their cover art at all. Nancy Wood wrote about how discouraging it was to get a horrible cover when working with a different publisher and how the magic of a compelling cover can make all the difference. Look at that cover! I mean… just look at it.
For my cover, with Water Dragon and the amazing artist Niki Lenhart, we went through about three iterations. The first design was similar to the final design, but I had some suggestions about the nature of the ship that was presented. In the second, I noticed a few additional details to correct. But I was also presented with an alternative design to consider. I liked it — and it was compelling in a certain way — but jointly, with the editor, we decided that the original design was more eye-catching. Then I got one last chance to see it before we pulled the trigger and approved it.
In addition, authors also receive postcards and business cards to support their publicity efforts. The postcards can be used to provide a “signed” version of the digital edition. But, for a story that only sells for $0.99, sending a postcard for $0.40 postage doesn’t make much economic sense. And business cards are more useful during times when people are actually meeting face to face. (I guess I could hold one up to my Zoom camera…)
In addition to material support, Water Dragon and the supportive community of writers working with them have had a wealth of ideas and advice for how to get the word out about one’s writing. It’s provided almost a template for how to get set up to publicize effectively — and to share information about events that might provide opportunities to offer a reading or get books in front of people.
I don’t have (m)any illusions that my first short story will catch fire and take over the internet. But I have to admit that as a debut, this experience has been amazing: My story has been published on its own, with its own cover and identity, rather than part of a collection. It’s been a great trial run for writing a longer piece of fiction (and I have several in the pipeline). And Ive learned a huge amount about the process and established a foundation (blog, twitter feed, website, etc.) to support my writing going forward. Thanks, Water Dragon!
(PS: You too can submit to Dragon Gems!)