Evelyn Chartres Author

A Belated Time to Celebrate

Featured_Belated_Time_To_Celebrated

I was making sure that all of my storefront links to the Portrait were valid, when I noticed that my novel had reached 150 downloads on Smashwords.  Well it is 151 because I was rather late in noticing the milestone.

My decision to target Smashwords seems to have been a good one.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Smashwords has enabled me to target other sites such as Kobo, iBooks, Scribd and Barnes and Nobel without creating individual accounts.
  • Smashwords has a user community of its own and have left more comments than any other.
  • Smashwords has not buried my book under tons of new material.  I still get views, even if the downloads have waned. I have to be realistic, pushing people to view and download a book can be a full-time job all by itself!
Smashwords-Chart-Views-Portrait-Aug-16

Last 30 Days of Statistics for the Portrait Page Views

Smashwords-Chart-Downloads-Portrait-Aug-16

Last 30 Days of Statistics for the Portrait Downloads

While this is an achievement (albeit a minor one), I did not feel it was worth the effort or calorie intake to make a full-sized frosted cake.  I will save that type of indulgence for later!

An Unexpected Review

I am rather negligent when it comes to looking up my book on sites to see if someone has read the book and left a review. While Smashwords had a strong initial trend of views and downloads, it has since slowed down.

Reviews Full Text – The reader liked the story. The reader found the over-use of the author, the artist, and the dreamer annoying. The reader still gave 5 stars. The reader will read other books by this author. The reader couldn't write a book if she tried so please take the readers criticism with a grain of salt. The reader thanks you.

Screen capture of the original review and rating on Smashwords.

That is to be expected, since The Portrait has been out a while and I do not actively push the content. However, it has yielded some reviews over time and I came across this one today!

Any review that says the reader will grab my next book is a great news for me. So I thought it would be nice to share!

The Portrait is available on for free on:
Barnes and Noblehttp://goo.gl/jloJZy
Indigohttp://goo.gl/X4eRMK
Kobohttp://goo.gl/8wCF8s
Scribdhttp://goo.gl/jm7nbS
Smashwordshttp://goo.gl/dyk9BE

The eBook is also available on:
Amazonhttp://goo.gl/j01Hyc

The Portrait on Smashwords – Broke One-Hundred Downloads!

In February of this year, I released The Portrait. During its previous incarnation as The Portrait of a Woman, it saw little traffic and activity graphs conjured up images of a patient flatlining.

At least my decision to move away from Amazon‘s Kindle Direct Publishing sphere of influence and branch out into additional markets has breathed life into the project. On Smashwords, the novel has broken a hundred downloads (was 118 when I posted) and still sees daily views.

Shamshwords_Stats

Last 30 Days of Statistics for The Portrait.

While downloads may be waning on the graphs, I prefer to not make draw any definite conclusions.  The book is available through considerably more markets and is free! After all, what is the value of a novel if you cannot actually sell it?

Smashwords has also been wonderful in delivering my eBook to other markets.  True you may have more control if you do it yourself, however for free novels this I feel this feature is invaluable.

The Portrait of a Woman Is Dead… Long Live the Portrait!

“A vision from the past becomes a writer’s deadly obsession.”

The Portrait's Cover

The Portrait is available for free on:
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Scribd
Smashwords

The Portrait of a Woman was released over a year ago through Kindle Direct Publishing.  The novel never did gain much traction, so I decided it was time to breathe some life into it.

Enter The Portrait, featuring a shorter title, a fresh cover and minor changes to the storyline.  I had someone review the novel to touch-up the formatting and grammar here and there.  Overall this release is superior to the original release.

This time I used Smashwords, which also distributes through popular sites like Barnes and NobleiBooks, iBooks, Kobo and Scribd.  Additionally, this book is available at no cost, since I feel that it’s more important to get this story out there!

While you can get it from Amazon, the book is not available for free. Please tell them about a lower price so Kindle users can get the book free of charge from Amazon directly!

The Portrait’s Synopsis

The Portrait is a Gothic horror about Victoria Frost, an author who develops an unhealthy obsession for her character. As events unfold, her obsession begins to turn on her and leads the author to question her sanity. Is this simply her slipping deeper into madness or are there other factors in play?

The Portrait is a mixture of contemporary and historical scenes with the latter revolving around her muse.  In this novel, the author will revisit an iconic scene using both prose and art yielding new pieces to the puzzle with every pass.

Notes and Variants

Dressing up the Cover – Part 6

This is Part 6 of the Dressing up the Cover tutorial and previously we covered Taglines and Layer Styles.

t_21-Tagline-Inserted.pngNotes on Bravo

Bravo was originally released along with two (2) other variants and was by far the most popular of the three (3). Feedback shown below led to the creation of other variants.

Bravo caught my attention better than the others.

Bravo looks the most professional, although the fonts are kind of sterile.

I’m not a fan of any of them. They all scream —self-published— in the worst of ways.

None of them say horror to me.  If you’re sold on using the image, I’ definitely try to bring it out in the fonts.  Look at some popular horror titles and see what they use.  That will give you an idea of what communicates —horror— to readers.

Overall, the points brought forward were related to the choice of font and how the cover did not fit the ideal horror cover. The Portrait does not subscribe to the modern ideals of horror, at least in terms of gore playing a large part.

People expected to see streaks of blood, fangs protruding from the lady’s mouth or vast amounts of gore. This worked against the story of the premise where the supernatural settings are concealed for most of the novel and would potentially spoil the surprise!

There was a noticed distaste for the red borders employed with this particular variant. While I initially believed that they infused the cover with a bit of colour, people predominantly disagreed and preferred to have no transitions as all.

Over all I managed to pick up a few points to work on:

  • Keep some distance between the outside edges of the image and the font. Text elements are more likely to remain visible if the image needs to be truncated or applied to a printed cover;
  • The use of red for fonts to add in colour may not work out as expected. Red does not display well in black and white images;
  • There is a strong preference for covers to use an image covering the whole of the visible area. This led to the development of Hotel and India variations which are covered later;
  • Font selection is key and has been discussed before. There was a strong push for Trajan Pro as a general-purpose font.

Some  recommendations were applied to Bravo which created the variant below.  While it does not address all of the faults, it does provide an incremental improvement.

A Hotel Visit

Hotel was a variant that aimed to make use of different fonts that would grab the attention of a potential reader.  This version also made use of transparencies and the outer glow effect which differs from other versions.  While Hotel universally reviled in comments it does have certain features that were fun to explore.

You will need to make use of the Lady Normal Base, to proceed with this aspect of the tutorial.

The cover size is longer than the original image allows . To achieve this we needed to create a mirror image copy then join them at the seams. This increases the space above her head to prevent the Author’s Name from obstructing her face.

From the Image menu, select Canvas Size.

30-Canvas-Size-Select.pngA new Window appears, which permits you to adjust the Size of the canvas. Increase the Height of to 16000 pixels then ensure Placement is set to Bottom, Middle as shown:

31-Canvas-Size-Options.png

Click on the OK button, which adds an empty space above the image found.

32-Canvas-Size-Result.pngUsing the Selection Tool, make a copy of the top portion of the Base then Paste as a New Layer. You up with two copies of the Top with the new selection that needs to be flipped.

From the Image Menu select Flip then Flip Vertical.

33-Flip-Vertical.pngLine-up the images as though they were part of a mirror image. Once satisfied with the merger, right-mouse click on the layers then from the Merge Popup-Menu select Merge All (Flatten).

This operation will merge both layers together. You may need to experiment until the connection is seamless.

Next add the Author, Title and Taglines. As mentioned previously, Layer Styles for Author and Title employ of Outer Glow, Emboss and Transparencies to get the desired effect. To reproduce the effects showcased on the cover the following fonts were used.

  • Title — Bebas Neue Bold
  • Author — Oleo Script
  • Tagline — Cinzel (Bolded)

For Layer Styles adjust until settings match the options below:

35-Layer-Styles-Emboss.pngThe next step is to adjust the Outer Glow, set it to match those shown below:

34-Layer-Styles-Glow.png

While there are a lot of ways to adjust transparency, you can do so from the General Tab of the Layer Properties window. Copy the settings found below then save it for later use. This ensures consistency when applying it to other layers.

The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.

35-Layer-Styles-Transparency.png

The Tagline only makes use of Emboss, copy the settings below to match our style.

36-Layer-Styles-Emboss-Tagline.png

You end up with a cover which looks roughly like our sample.

A Trip to India

India was not one of my designs. Ironically, an acquaintance used a phone app to whip up a design she felt worked well. This formed the basis for cover design used on The Portrait.

Other than making use of Lady Ethereal as a base, this design uses techniques which have been explained before.  To the following fonts were used:

  • Title – Cinzel (Bolded)
  • Author – Cinzel (Bolded)
  • Tagline – Cinzel (Bolded)

In Part 7, we will talk about making a Cover Swatch.