cover art

This is the third installment of my self-publishing series. This week I’ll cover formatting and cover art.

To check out information on traditional publishing vs self publishing, click HERE and my post on editing and proofreading can be found HERE. And now that you’ve got that manuscript polished and ready, it’s time to put the package together and formatted for uploading. Many authors choose to do their own formatting. I always tell authors … if you typed the manuscript, you can do your own formatting for upload.

Before your manuscript is ready for formatting, you will need to add the FRONT MATTER for the digital book. Following is information I include on its own page.

Optional Pages:

  • REVIEWS: Many authors choose to include reviews of the current novel or prior published novels
  • DEDICATION and/or acknowledgments

An acknowledgment is a special thank you to anyone who may have helped you with your novel, whether it’s a professional who helped with research, a critique group who helped in development or a special nod to your editor or cover artist. That would be included in the acknowledgment section.

Many authors choose to dedicate the book to someone special.

However, neither an acknowledgment nor dedication are necessary.

Required Pages:

  • COPYRIGHT: This page includes your ownership of copyright, including year of publication. If you have chosen to obtain a copyright from the Library of Congress, there is no need to include it on this page. Contact for you, your editor, proofreader and cover artist (if you used any of these professionals) are included. The last paragraph is a disclaimer found in all fiction. Here’s a sample:


Copyright © 2015 by Author Name
# Edition (If this is a release of a previously published work)

Published by AUTHOR NAME of STATE OF RESIDENCE. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.


Editor Name
Website of Editor you Hired

Cover Artist Name
Website of Artist you Hired

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS: Even digital books require an electronic table of contents that allows a reader to move easily within your story. With so many changes at Amazon, it seems Amazon is requiring authors to put their table of contents in the front of their book.

A table of contents is created using the “Bookmark” feature and “Hyperlink within the document” feature. MS Word tutorials on bookmarking and hyperlinking within the document can be found on YouTube.

Following your story you would have your BACK MATTER. Each of the following should be on their own page. All pages in the back matter are optional, but I wouldn’t publish a book without my author bio and contact information. This is the order my back matter appears:

  • EXCERPT: If you have other published works, you may want to put a short excerpt (of 3000 words or less) at the end of your story.
  • AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: This should include a picture and contact information including website, newsletter signup link and social media links. (Make it easy for readers who enjoyed your novel to find you.)
  • OTHER PUBLISHED BOOKS: If you have other books you’ve published be sure to list them. Some authors have a single link to their website for readers to click and get more information. I create and upload different files to each individual retailer and have a live link like this one for IN HIS EYES that sends readers to the book at specific retailers.

Once you have the front matter and back matter complete then you need to have the whole WORD document converted to an EPUB (electronic publication) file. An EPUB file can be uploaded at all retailers, creating a clean digital book. (Formatting for print books is a whole other animal and requires a separate blog post.)

There are several platforms used for converting digital files. All of them require a little poking around and experimenting until you are comfortable, but they all create clean EPUB files from Word documents:

  • Calibre – A free download that converts docx documents to ePub and mobi (kindle), formats. This program can also convert to other formats such as html and pdf, but I recommend doing this through the “save as” feature in your word program. This is the program I use and I find it easy to use for creating clean ePubs for upload. (NOTE: To view your ePub files you will need to download a free version of Adobe Digital Editions. To read mobi files you’ll need to download a free version of Kindle for PCs or Mac.)
  • Jutoh – Converts Word documents to ePub, mobi (kindle), pdf and html formats. Currently selling for $39-$80, depending on version and features. I have worked a little with this program, but I found it cumbersome to use. Many formatters enjoy using this program for conversion.
  • Scrivener – This program can be used for so much more than formatting. It’s a full organizational tool for your novel. Capabilities include organizing research notes and cataloguing fully written scenes and then organizing them into chapters. It can also be used for formatting Word documents for upload. Currently selling for $40.
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If all of that seems overwhelming, give me a shout. I do digital and print formatting. Check out my pricing HERE.

Now that you have the interior complete, you need a COVER to entice readers to buy your book. Remember your cover is about marketing. It’s the first thing the reader sees. It doesn’t have to necessarily be your vision of your characters or setting as long as it:

1. Represents your story
2. Depicts the genre at first glance
3. All elements are easily recognizable in a thumbnail (especially title and author)
4. Draws people to read the blurb and hopefully go on to buy the book.

Look at book covers in your genre. What elements do you like? What are some hard and fast elements you refuse? If you’re the artsy type there is software available for creating your own cover. (NOTE: Be sure you purchase the rights to use the images on your cover through a reputable royalty-free image site like iStockphoto or Hot Damn Stock Photos).

There are several software formats for creating covers.

  • GIMP: A free download for Windows. It’s a full featured, multi-platform graphics editor; and an image tool of choice for many graphic editors with common tools such as paint brush, pencil, airbrush, eraser and ink tools, with the capability of blending images.
  • PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS: This is a large graphics program, selling for $99, with many features. There is a free trial available as well, so you can try it out before you purchase. There are also many YouTube tutorials available online.

If you prefer to have someone else make your covers there are several sources available. Pre-made covers range in price from $10-$85. Or you can hire a cover artist to make a one-of-a-kind cover for your novel. I HIGHLY recommend Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs. Her prices are very reasonable for both print and digital. She also offers pre-made covers. Though some cover artists offer only 3-4 design options, Dar works with you until you are happy with your cover.

I just finished edits on my twelfth book, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very many. I’m a very slow writer by many standards, but I digress. It’s not the number that’s important here. I only wanted to let you know I’ve been through the process of publishing a book plenty of times to tell you, none of it gets old!

I’m not one of those authors that can just puke up the first draft, though goodness knows I’d like to figure out how. I fuss and futter over every word. Every paragraph. Every word of dialogue. Until some days my muse is ready to pour the bottle of tequilla she’s been enjoying over my head. But I’ve got to tell you there’s nothing more thrilling than finding that perfect turn of phrase that makes the page sparkle.

Well, except the thrill of typing “the end” and sending my story off to my critique partners for a final perusal. And after one more spell check and fixing the glitches my partners find, hitting the send button and getting my story out to my editor. Oh, yeah, there’s a totally sigh of contentment. (And then nervously sitting and anticipating her reaction while it sits in her queue waiting her read.)

And then the offer of contract arrives and I squee like a little girl getting a pony at her birthday party (which never did happen in my lifetime). Not occasionally. Not only if the book was on the more difficult side to write. Every time. I run out and shout it to my critique partners. Blast it across facebook. And annoy my loops with giddy dances of excitement. Yay! Signing a new contract makes my heart sing.

Then of course there’s the excitement of filling out the cover request information, anticipating the gorgeous artwork that will come back.

Then the edits arrive. I’m one of those writers that loves the editing process. First of all I have to sing praises to Mary, my editor at Ellora’s Cave. Mary pushes my writing to be better in the larger scheme of the book. But she’s also amazing in the small details of a story that my beta readers miss. Like the fact that my hero has on biker boots when he arrives at a resort in chapter one and shows up in cowboy boots in chapter seven. (Yeah, no guy brings that many shoes to a mostly nekkid resort.) Or that months of therapy suddenly becomes years of therapy three chapters later. Looooooooove herrrrrrr! (Yes that was me singing Mary’s praises.) Anyhoodles … edits give me another chance to see each scene by itself and really make it shine. There’s a delightful sense of accomplishment sending the shining manuscript back to my editor.

Then the email arrives with my cover attached and I let it sit, enjoying the anticipation of the unveiling. My heart in my throat, my breath held, I open the email and get my first glimpse of the artwork that will identify my book to readers. Yeah, I love that moment.

And after it’s all come together the day arrives when my baby heads out into the world. Release day probably is the best part. Well, until the first reviews are posted leaving me running around the internet like a crazy woman, posting links everywhere.

Hopefully in the middle of all of that, I’ve got another book in the pipeline and all of it happens all over again. Because as you can see, I just really get stupidly happy through all the stages of this crazy publishing business.

There are always exciting days in a writer’s world. Finishing a story and sending it off to your editor. Contract Offers. Release days. But you know, there is nothing that makes me hold my breath like COVER DAY! Seriously. I spend a lot of time describing my characters and my world settings to the art department in hopes that they can capture the feel of my story. So when the email comes from the art department I take a deep breath, close my eyes and open the attachment…and just stare. I have been blessed with some gorgeous covers. But none has made me jump up and down and shed tears of happiness like the cover for A TOUCH OF LILLY.


The VERY talented Reese Dante designed it for me and she fit all the pieces together perfectly! So it is with all kinds of happiness that I stand up and cheer for her as she accepts the ARIANA book cover award in the Science Fiction Erotic Romance category. w00f! w00f! w00f! (See the Julia Roberts fist pump.) She actually won in two categories which is not surprising since she is truly talented and makes the most gorgeous covers.

Anyway,  I just wanted to share my joy with you. And since it’s been awhile, how about and excerpt …
Lilly D’Angelo could have been walking into any of the seedier establishments lining Forty-fifth and Wester on Chicago’s south side. Except for the clientele, the tavern’s owner had managed to replicate nearly every detail right down to the blue haze and the soft crooning of a jazz band on the corner stage. The acrid stench and gruff hum of a Friday night crowd tripped Lilly down memory lane—a place she had no desire to travel at the moment.

Lilly pushed the sour thoughts of home out of her mind and focused her energy on the patrons at the bar. Morphing her features into her sexiest vixen pout, she moved gracefully toward the long bar on the other side of the room. Her voluptuous breasts, spilling temptingly from her silk blouse, led the way. The eyes watching her ass sashay around the battered tables were clustered on various life forms—none of them human.
Yeah, definitely not Chicago. Shit, this wasn’t even Earth for chrissake.

“Regent’s ale, straight up, hold the brenic.” She spoke English, hoping the two-headed Xerick behind the bar had a cochlear translator in one of those eight holes that passed for ears. Satisfied when one head nodded, she settled on a stool, making sure her fur jacket and blouse parted enough to offer a seductive view of her cleavage. Lilly shifted just enough to let the black leather skirt ride up her thigh and expose a little more silky real estate. Surreptitiously checking her image in the mirrored glass behind the liquor bottles, she was pleased she looked every bit the part. She wasn’t trying to attract anyone in particular, perhaps something on the less offensive side that could offer her a bit of entertainment to help fritter away the next couple of hours.

Lilly wasn’t a xenophobic bigot by any stretch of the imagination. But six months in deep space, working these kinds of joints, wasn’t really long enough to become accustomed to the scenery. The Nebulae Galaxy’s spaceports overflowed with aliens of all sizes and genders. Only that wasn’t really a fair term here in deep space.

Alien inferred the life forms didn’t belong. On the contrary, it was humans who were invading their territory. The treaties of 2253, signed well over forty years ago, had guaranteed the safe travel of humans in deep space. After the snafu of ’34, which saw the first major space disaster since light travel had been discovered, humans had insisted on protection for their species. They’d formed some bullshit board of security, guaranteeing humans could run roughshod over the universe like everywhere else. Though most people referred to them as the QAL, Lilly nicknamed them the alphabet mafia. At one point she’d actually considered working for them until they’d discovered who she was—or more specifically what she was. It didn’t matter. They could all go fuck themselves if they didn’t appreciate her gifts. Lilly had found a way to use her talents and still bring down the bad guys.

Of course in deep space, bad was a relative term.

And Syneca does it again! My newest story with Ellora’s Cave will be out hopefully this spring. This is the novella formerly titled “Blue Moon Rising” in the Furry, Fluffy &Wild anthology. I’m currently in edits for the rewritten version.

“Bonded Souls” is the story that began Jayda and Cole’s love affair. It’s actually the prequel to “Bonded by Need”. And without further adieu here’s the cover …


After discovering her boyfriend is married, veterinarian Jayda Kynslan decides to give up on men. She has every intention of planting her feet firmly on the path of celibacy-right after one more night of shameless sex with a stranger. A vacation in Montana would certainly ease the pain of betrayal and offer her anonymity.

Police chief and wolf shifter council leader, Cole Takoda, needs a break from investigating the murders of shifters plaguing his town. When a beautiful stranger seduces him at the local tavern it’s more than a tryst…it’s uncontrollable desire. And Cole can’t stand it. To top it off, their quickie becomes a revelation of shifter secrets and unfulfilled prophecies.

The discovery of a dead man in the forest behind Jayda’s rented cabin thrusts her into a foreign world of animal shifters and murder and the man she thought was only a casual diversion seems to be the only one willing to hear her side of the story. Jayda’s just not sure if Cole’s going to take her to jail-or his bed.


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