Monthly Archives: May 2015

Think big

Author: Let Readers Read Your Writing

You’ve written a book – a novel. You’ve had friends read it and have received encouraging comments. You could go ahead and publish on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, CreateSpace or Smashwords. (These links take you their publishing pages.)

However, if you’re not quite ready for total exposure you can take advantage of Wattpad – a website that publishes new and old writing a chapter at a time.  You can read another writer’s style and decide whether it is for you, then go look for them in the online book stores. Or you can simply sample and read on – a chapter at a time – the work of authors who appeal.

That sort of dip-in and leave or come-again reading without having to commit any cost is useful in many ways. You can use the talents of others to compare or lift your own writing style.

James Joyce  – masterful writing still

I was able to click into “The Dubliners”, a collection of short stories by James Joyce (now out of copyright). I read Joyce’s story “The Sisters”. It’s written in the style of last century, but what stimulated my writer mind was the subtlety of the revelation of characters. It was not the sisters but the character of the priest which is revealed, hint by hint. Joyce’s use of language, though now apparently old-fashioned, is masterful still.

Wattpad for aspiring authors

Here are a few trending titles on Wattpad right now:


The real benefit of Wattpad for an indie author with a completed book is the option you have of uploading your own works to the website (unpaid, of course) and testing out the response of readers. You could actually write your story online in their text editor, but I would urge you to copy and paste into the editor and follow the instructions to upload your story. It’s a great way of testing out the potential popularity for a serial.

Be careful, though, that you’re not infringing any of the rules of the websites where you may want to publish later, e.g. Amazon has strict rules about how much of a work may be published elsewhere if you choose to enrol in the Kindle Direct program and receive higher percentage royalties.

Become an educated author

No I’m not advocating that you go out and spend megabucks on books and writing/publishing or marketing courses. The information is out there and ready for the taking if you are prepared to spend time sifting through the dross. Look for blogs by successful writers – those with more than one book on the online shelves. Here are two I suggest you check out:

  • Non-fiction author Tim Ferriss’ How to Write a Bestselling Book This Year blog. This link to Tim’s blog is littered with other links that will take you to more information. Tim is author of the “Four Hour Workweek”, “The Four Hour Body” and several others in the same vein.
  • Well researched fiction author, Joanna Penn writes at The Creative Penn blog and invites in equally talented authors to talk about the processes they use to make them great. Joanna adds podcasts to her blogs which you an download and listen to at a later date.


Of course, I’d like you to check my own WriteGear Facebook page where I post many links to the results of my research, and you can enrol at my website to access the long list of how-to writing and publishing videos.

All of these blogs and websites require you to register, but the pay-back for writers who want to learn and succeed will be tremendous.  And who knows? You might even discover new authors you’d like to follow.

In the creative flow – Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

What does your fiction cover say?

There are so many considerations for Indie authors when they decide on their fiction book cover. There’s the picture design first:

1.  Should the image be a photograph or a graphic? Photographs always seem to me as if the author is writing about real serious people, whereas a graphic gives me a more frivolous impression.

BookCoverViolentSandswww_jeremyRobinsonOnline_com  BookCoverRoadtoSuccesswww_design21sdn_com

TheBeachHouseReview2 US-Elder-Care-Aging-book-cover-design1www_hiretheworld_com

Above: These books use a mixture of graphic and photo images to convey their message.  Note their use of text to attract attention. ‘The Beach House’, a print book, was the only one that used a written font – usually not a good idea for Indie publishers because it is so hard to read in a thumbnail image.

2.  Does the picture convey to the potential reader what the contents describe? Can a reader be misled about the genre?

Author and blogger Joanna Penn warns  that  “fiction titles need to:

  • Communicate a promise to the reader – which is further aligned to the cover images – which mesh perfectly with what the customer expects in the book. If there’s anything that jars the reader in any imperceptible way, they won’t buy.

Where to find a good (cheap) designer

Indie authors are recommended to find a good cover designer and is one place where you can find a designer who produces graphics or book covers to suit the style of your book.

3.  But don’t be carried away by the designer’s cleverness in their past work; make sure it matches the concept you want to convey:

  • Moody or romantic
  • Humorous or witty
  • Matter-of-fact or practical
  • Crime or mystery

Here are a selection of covers offered by Fiverr designer. You can see that designers can be very flexible and if you give them a clear description of what you want


Many Fiverr designers come from different cultures where earning a ‘fiver’ is big money. Be aware that they also need an understanding of the culture where your story takes place. Check out their work before committing yourself to a cover designer. Be prepared to use more than one designer until you find the cover that’s right for your book. That doesn’t mean not paying the original designer, even if you don’t use their design. You engaged them and they did the work.

Consider your font and font size on your eBook cover title

4.  Title size are really important for eBooks, especially. When eBook covers are reduced in size unless the title is in a large font it will be hard to read. Rule of thumb I’ve heard is that the title should take up one third of the depth of the cover.

Take a look at the covers shown below:


They follow the title size rule quite closely.

According to Kate Harper in her book How to make an E-Book Cover – for Non-Designers’ :   “The main purpose of an online book cover is to encourage the customer to click on the title and read the book’s description, sample pages, index and table of contents. But if your cover doesn’t grab their attention from the beginning, they may just pass it by.”

Kate’s book takes you through the steps of making a quality eBook cover in both Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. So if you really can’t afford to employ a designer (good designs cost more than $5 with Fiverr) and you have some copyright-free graphics you want to use, then this eBook would be great. It certainly gave me help in understanding the special needs of Indie publishing and e-Covers.

5.  Choose a font that is easy to read and fits the content of your story.

When you’re creating a cover the font you choose is vital. Just like the options I listed under Point 3, different fonts convey different levels of urgency, mystery or intrigue.

BookC1 BookC2 BookC4

BookC6 BookC7 BookC3

The images above were from an exercise I did to look at the types of fonts and what they conveyed. I am NOT writing a novel called Dead in the Water – so go ahead if you’re so inclined! A couple of them seemed too hard to read easily, and others did not convey the seriousness of death I thought such a title deserved. Of course, this is all subjective and the best you can do when choosing a font for your cover page is to show a few people and get some feedback.

Is your name more important that your eBook title?

Definitely not if you’re publishing your first few books. After you’ve become a ‘discovered’ writer then you can bring your name up into larger font size.  Here are some writers who totally ignore the rule:


Any guesses why?

Yes, once you have a following, your fans will read whatever you write because they know they’ll enjoy a good read. Unknown authors must let the Title and Cover of their book create a little anticipation and draw the reader into the book. Or at least to read the sample pages.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Write blogger because you must


I have just been watching a YouTube video uploaded seven years ago. It is a speech by Toni Morrison as she accepted her award for Literary Services at the PEN Awards presentations in 2008.

Her words struck me as so prophetic and even now, almost a decade later, the message to bloggers, fiction writers, playwrights and poets is as an urgent reminder to not stop writing.

Action is in the word

Toni Morrison has tackled major issues in her writing. In ‘A Mercy’ her theme is the issue of slavery and how some people can assume they have the right to exercise power over unwilling slaves.  Although her novels look at the issue from a black person’s point-of-view, the implications are more wide ranging: while any population seeks to dominate (enslave) another and force their will on them, we will never have peace.

You can see her Amazon Author page HERE.

The word and writers need protection

The message I took away from her PEN award acceptance speech is that authors/writers in any genre, who expose human experience, or name the as yet unnamed activity in the world are activists. They expose the unthinkable; they draw attention to the issues; they awaken people who are in a coma about reality. If you want to hear what she said watch the video below.

Toni Morrison accepts her 2008 PEN award.

So fellow bloggers and writers – keep writing and blogging; keep researching; keep telling your story. You are the key that others will use to dig deeper, to challenge the status quo, and seek a peaceful wise world.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author.