Two Blogs of "What Not To Do" Goodness

Two Blogs of "What Not To Do" Goodness

I wanted to write a little different blog post this week, and keep it short and entertaining.

Bad Covers! Kindle Cover Disasters're a Horse!

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” It’s a popular English idiom, but we all do it. If you haven’t heard of the blog Kindle Cover Disasters by now, you’re missing out. I bring it up not to point and mock other authors, but as a cautionary tale (or encouragement—your mileage may vary). You may be a great writer, but if you’re not a great designer or visual artist, do yourself a favor and either find someone to do your cover for you, or find resources that can help. Please. Here are my suggestions:
  • While you may be an okay designer, statistically and logically you’re way better off using this service which helps you find people willing to do a service on your behalf, starting at just $5. You probably aren’t going to find much better for the cost than a designer or design student trying to pad their portfolio.
  • If you really fancy yourself an artist but haven’t done any serious digital work, and want to keep it on the cheap, Canva is a great second option. The site comes with plenty of templates, pre-selected font matching, color layouts, etc. Premium features cost money, but usually not more than $1-$2 at a time (in my experience). You could easily put together a stylish-looking book cover in less than an hour that would look much, much better than anything you could throw together in MS-Paint or Photoshop using badly-clipped stock photos.

Bad Query Letters! Slush Pile Hell

If you think your writing is up to par and really want to get published, you’re going to need an agent. Bad things happen when you try to go it without one (it’s personal, I don’t want to talk about it). An agent’s job is to help get your manuscript in front of the right people, but your job is to find the agent that can help you do that. That means sending out query letters.

Slush Pile Hell is a blog written by an agent who anonymously publishes their worst queries, and responds on the blog with the words they only wish they could use in real life. Again, it’s not about pointing and laughing, it’s a cautionary tale. Here are some great alternatives to avoid ending up in this agent (or any other’s) slush pile:

  • Query Shark: Like Slush Pile Hell, this is a blog created by an agent. Unlike SPH, this blog has back-and-forth between authors and the agent (or several) to get pointers on writing the best query letter possible. It’s a fantastic resource, and while it will take some time to read through the many posts, if you’re serious about wanting to write and get your work in front of an agent, this is part of the work you should be doing.
  • Create Space: This might seem a little like a cop-out, but one tool that can be very effective in the writing process is to skip the agent/publisher step all together and take things into your own hands. Create Space is an Amazon-owned company that helps you through the process of getting your manuscript into a finished e-book. They offer paid services for editing, cover design (although I’d look at the two resources above, they’ll be cheaper in the short run), editing, and marketing. I mention editing twice because this will directly affect your book rating on Amazon. So why self-publish if I really want a bigger market? Look at it this way: self-publishing a novel right now and selling it inexpensively puts it out into more hands. If the writing is good enough and you can get enough people to read it, this is going to attract a lot more agents and publishers than someone with a half-finished manuscript who thinks that simply insisting their book is the most important thing to happen to mankind is enough. Don’t be that person.

2 thoughts on “Two Blogs of "What Not To Do" Goodness

  1. Very informative Quantum! I love the approach to keep this short and entertaining. I literally LOLed in several spots. You were also kind in presenting examples as cautionary tales rather than opportunities for ridicule. I love the links too. Great job.

  2. This post is awesome! It may seem like the hours I spent wandering down the rabbit hole of links was a waste of time, but no! I had a great time learning about what not to do. I enjoyed it immensely!

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