Summer is starting to wind down

Well, it’s been a very busy, fun, exciting, exhilarating time. Lot’s of things happened this last couple of months. I have been doing so many things, except writing. But it is summer time and this is the time for all the outdoor projects to get done. Regardless of yard maintenance and revamping our grounds, there has been significant developments in our lives.

My stepson, who’s been living with us the past four years, got his own place. We helped with his packing and moving this last week. Saturday was the final move day. We have some great guys help us with his heavy things. Without this help, it would have killed us doing it by ourselves.

With his moving, it created a new space for me. I now have a fully functional office where I can finally display all of my writing toys. Yes, I have toys. These are spaceships and collectable items that inspire my writing. Being in a small open area in my kitchen before, my writing prowess will have field day now.

I’ve already been able to jump back into Ream of Revein’sev (book 6 in the Warlords Series) and wrote an entire chapter in one day. This is something I’ve struggled with for a few weeks. But, my schedule has been pretty crazy, but boy did it ever feel great sitting in my real office and tape out to my hearts content on my new keyboard and mouse. (My old keyboard had seen better days… let me tell you as it was going on twelve years.)

With that being said, let the fingers tickle that keyboard and I feel another chapter ready to pour outta me.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

When Life Throws You A Curve Ball

Many of you may have wondered what happened to me and my weekly blog? Well, you don’t have to wonder any longer. I’m back and in full stride again. It was absolutely necessary for my absences, as life did throw us a curve ball. Only this time, it wasn’t about me.

Back on May 31st, my wife fell at work and suffered a compression fracture on her L3 vertebrae. Diana is always very stoic, but when I got her call at just past six am, I could tell something bad happened. She didn’t want an aid car because she didn’t think she hurt herself that bad. After being on the phone just a couple minutes, I knew it was serious. It was a very stressful situation as I was stranded at home as we only have one vehicle. The school sent the bus mechanic up the mountain to get me, so I could take her to the emergency room. By the time I got there, which was only about fifteen minutes, she was in excruciating pain.

Fortunately, now that I have my sclera contacts, I can drive again. The closest hospital is thirty minutes away and within just a few minutes of the trip, Diana wished she had them call for that aid car. When you haven’t driven in a while, it can be nerve racking, let alone trying to get to your destination as quickly as possible. But we made it to the emergency room drop off. Diana was in so much pain, she couldn’t get out of the car and I was of no help. I ran inside to get someone to assist and they were pretty useless, which then added to the stress. They said, we’ll have to call the fire department and have them send someone out.

Well, Diana wasn’t going to wait for who knows how long for the fire department to arrive, so she powered through twisting and turning enough to get out to a point where I could pull her to her feet. Oh, and the fire department never showed up.

At this point, it was too painful to sit or lay on her back. The only position she could tolerate was standing. I will say, they got her back to a room within five minutes of walking through the door. Then it seemed an eternity waiting for an exam by the doctor and finally a shot of some pain medication, which actually did nothing. Once she got an x-ray and then a CT scan, they got an IV started and was able to give her some medication that helped. But it didn’t last very long. Simply because of the tremendous pain she was in.

When the results came in and the doctor brought up the CT scan on the screen for us to see, it was very apparent that there was something wrong. The doctor pointed to a spot on her L3 bone that was crushed. He called it a stable compression fracture on L3. Fortunately, that is if there’s anything fortunate about a broken back, is that it was stable and on the exterior of the spine. If it was on the inside, it could have been much more serious causing a spinal cord injury.

The next several weeks were rough for everyone. With my physical limitations, it’s difficult for me to keep a fast pace. Now that Diana was down for the count, I was taking care of everything in the home and driving everyone to appointments. Over the next two weeks, life was super difficult with my existing neurological limitations. But you know what? I did it. We all survived and Diana is healing very well. In fact, last week was her six week follow up and with a new set of x-rays, they were able to confirm the fracture is stable and there are no issues at all. In fact, they said there shouldn’t be any long-term issues with this as long as there are no more falls to reinjure the area. So, I told Diana, “You’re done falling. You can’t do that anymore.”

Life is finally getting back to normal for us. Diana is back to regular activity. They told her that her body will tell her when she’s overdoing it. I’m also recovering from the stress of this curve ball and now, I’m back in the writing saddle again and boy does it ever feel great!

So, the morel to this story is, if life does throw you a curve ball, the best thing you can do is just keep swinging at it. Eventually, you hit a home run. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing that ball flying out of the ball park. That’s when you know you’ve hit a home run and that curve ball was not as difficult as you first thought it would be.

Thank you for reading today’s blog. I hope these words and my experiences help you to take a few more swings at the curve balls that life send your way.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

There, Their and They’re – My Writing Kryptonite

As with anything in the English language, there are certain words that seem impossible for me to get right. I do have my moments, but really, theretheir and they’re seem to be my writing kryptonite.

It must be a mental block or something. Time and time again, I can go back over a manuscript and find issues with the usage of these three words. It’s not just me, either. I can read various texts and especially on social media where these three words are always misused. So, why are there, their and they’re so commonly used incorrectly?

Let’s do a deep dive into what exactly these words are, starting with there.

According to Grammar-Time, the word there is a commonly used word that can be difficult to classify because of the various roles it can play in a sentence. There can be used as an adverbpronounnoun, or adjective, and sometimes as an interjection.

Well, that explains it. It’s because the word there has so many various uses. When it’s used as an adverb, it is used to modify a verb in a sentence. “They went there only to find out that it was postponed.” The word there is considered an adverb because it describes the verb went.

That sounds simple enough, but then here’s where it gets even more complicated. That’s when it’s used as a pronoun. First, let’s define what a pronoun is. According to, “there are seven types of pronouns that both English and English as second language writers must recognize: the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the relative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun.

Let’s use the relative pronoun so we don’t’ get too bogged down. When using there as a pronoun, the word there can be used to introduce the subject of the sentence. An example is “There’s a spider in the bathtub.” When used as a noun, the example is, “get away from there.” It can also be used as an adverb as in, “Wait there until I get back.” Used as an adverb, “stop right there!” and as an interjection, “There, that didn’t hurt so much, did it?” Well, yes, it actually did hurt. I think my brain is sprained now.

Let’s move on to the word their, which is considered a possessive pronoun. What exactly does that mean? It means that it shows possession. It’s something that is owned. An example is, “The car is theirs.” More examples of possessive pronouns are provided by, which include “my, mine, our, ours, its, his, her, hers, their, theirs, your, and yours. These are all words that demonstrate ownership. If the book belongs to me, then it is mine. If the book belongs to her, then it is hers.”

Clear as mud, right? Let’s make things even more difficult by using their as an adjective. When the word their is used in this way, as defined by, “a form of the possessive case of plural they used as an attributive adjective, before a noun: their home; their rights as citizens; their departure for Rome.”

Okay, that one is easy enough. But then there’s the word they’re. Which should be fairly easy to understand. It’s actually called a contraction, which is a combination of two words; they and are. This combines the pronoun, they and verb, are making they’re.

Some examples are, they’re going to the ballpark. They’re buying a new house. They’re going camping this summer. These sounds pretty easy, but why is it, that this gets confused with the other there and their? At least this is what happens to me.

According to, “the trio of their, there, and they’re can flummox writers of all levels. It’s confusing; they are homophones, meaning they have the same pronunciation (sound) but differ in meaning and derivation (origin). Even though they sound the same, they aren’t spelled the same.”

Well, now I understand what my difficulty is. That’s because I have Dyslexia and while these words sound the same, they are spelled differently. It’s no wonder I flunked Freshman English three years in high school. 

Thank you for joining me this week. Next time, I’ll dive into another set of words that, I not only have trouble with but see time and time again being used incorrectly. Those are to, too, and two.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time. 

Salvage-5: Awakenings now has a series title

I did some tweaking on this one.

Getting ready to start book 2, Salvage-5: Revelations. (Yes, it’s with an ‘s’ on purpose.)

The new series for this continuing Salvage-5 storyline, is called:

‘Eye’s Wide Shut.’

Now, if that series title is confusing, check out how Colonel Tucker Petersen handles his current situation in book 1, Salvage-5: Awakenings. You might begin to understand.

And the story will continue with book 3, Salvage-5: Frequencies…

It’s gonna blow your mind…

Here’s some eye candy for what’s to follow after Awakenings:

Do Authors Really Need an ISBN?

The short answer is, it depends.

ISBN numbers are thirteen-digit unique number that identifies your book. It actually stands for International Standard Book Number. This unique code captures information regarding the book’s publisher, title, language, edition, and version.

Prior to 2007, ISBNs were ten digits. With the boom in the book publishing industry, ISBNs have been extended to thirteen digits. One example of an ISBN is from my cookbook, titled, Cooking with Author-Chef (Not Iron-Chef) Brian K. Larson along with the category.

Published in the United States of America

ISBN: 979-8481865867


These numbers can be purchased at Bowker Identifier Services at and come in blocks of ten for $295 bucks or a single number for $125. There are also bundles of one-hundred for $575 bucks and a mega package of 1000 ISBNs for $1500 bucks that they claim can be used for 200 books (or editions of books). This is really the best deal if you have the cash upfront. Most independent authors don’t have these kinds of funds readily available, especially if you’re just starting out.

An ISBN is unique to one edition, so you can rack up a lot of numbers for eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions. You can’t use the same number for each edition, so it can become very costly. I’ve purchased blocks of ten and discovered that I need more in short order.

However, do authors really need this expense? Again, it all depends on your needs. Amazon offers free ISBN for paperbacks and hardcovers. However, not for eBooks. I no longer buy my own numbers since eBooks at Amazon have ASIN numbers that are unique for their platform.

If you plan on publishing exclusively in book stores or outside of Amazon, you may want to invest in a block of ISBNs. If you are only on Amazon, it may not be necessary since you can get them for free.

Another outlet that offers free ISBNs is Smashwords. They provide numbers that are unique to their platforms and are required for their distribution channels such as iBooks (Apple), Barns & Noble, Kobo, and other retail outlets.

Keep in mind that once you publish your book with an ISBN and republish a second edition, you’ll need to use a new ISBN.

Here’s a breakdown of some marketing strategies to determine if you need to buy ISBNs.

If you want to save money or if most of your business is based online, you may not need to purchase an ISBN. However, if you have an aggressive branding strategy for your name or publishing company or most of your publishing will be based in physical book stores, you may want to purchase them.

Another important note to know is that this unique number is not a Copywrite for your book. Copywrite is completely different from an ISBN.

There are a few disadvantages of not using an ISBN. It can be difficult to track eBook sales, your book won’t be available to readers who prefer print books and your book won’t be included in the books in the print database.

As I said earlier, Amazon and Smashwords do offer free ISBNs, so the disadvantages are minimal. With eBooks distribution, most companies don’t require one. However, there is a place to add the number when you are creating the publication.

To wrap up, ISBNs can be confusing at first, when in actuality, they are pretty straightforward. Plan on using one for your print editions, whether using a free one from Amazon or you purchase your own. For your eBooks, you don’t need one, but you certainly can obtain one if you wish.

Thank you for joining me this week.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

To Republish or not to Republish…

That is the question you should of thee. Being a self-published author has many advantages. One of them is having full control over your work. This means you can upload revised copies of your book as often as you need.

Those pesky errors in your manuscript can be quite distracting to many readers. They’ll be looking for your grammar, punctuation, spelling and the correct use of your words. I call these folks the ‘grammar police’ and they’re relentless and some can be darn right mean and hurtful. Keep in mind, Amazon does have a review policy and if they are attacking you on a personal level, you can ask Amazon to remove those.

Being able to upload fixed copies of your book will erase those issues

If you’ve made mistakes and republish, those low star ratings and reviews can still plague authors. There is a trick you can use at Amazon KDP to erase all those negative reviews. There are pros and cons to this and in this article, I’ll be explaining what those are.

First off, it’s important to get your manuscript as cleanly edited as you can before publishing the book. I know from personal experience that with even the best editing service, there can be mistakes missed. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a cashe of beta readers to read your work after it’s gone through your editing phase. Even doing this, there are still risks of missing glaring errors. So, when it’s time to upload a new copy of your book after making those corrections, you have to do something that will erase those reviews.

That’s called creating a second edition. When you’re in the Amazon KDP book publishing page, all you simply have to do is change the edition field to ‘2’ and then continue with the normal process.

This does two things at Amazon. First, it publishes your book as a second edition which erases all the reviews and star ratings. The second thing is Amazon treats your published book as a new release and gives it preferential treatment over other books for a time. This can boost sales of your book, gaining new interest with prospective readers.

There are some downsides to this, that is, all your positive ratings and reviews vanish as well. It’s like starting over, but maybe that’s not a bad idea if the negative ratings are many, which will hurt you with new readers looking for a great read.

There is a way to publish a second, third or forth edition and keep all of your reviews. You would want to do this if you have a great number of positive ratings. This is something that the author must decide for themselves. How many positives over the negatives? How bad are the reviews? How many positive ratings are there and are there reviews you simply cannot ignore and face losing forever?

Once you decide you really need to republish a new edition, they all vanish. However, there is a way to try and recover them. It’s not a hundred percent full-proof and it’s up to Amazon to decide to bring them all back.

You do this by submitting a support ticket to Amazon. You have to provide them with the new ASIN along with the old number and if there are any changes to your ISBN. Amazon doesn’t require an ISBN number, but they assign new ASIN numbers which you have no control over.

After requestion via Amazon’s help desk, there is a good chance that those reviews will get moved to your new edition. Again, there is a risk that Amazon will not do it and there isn’t anything you can say or do, more than the support ticket, to make them.

So, this is why it’s very important to understand the republishing of your work. You must carefully choose making a new edition.

With Amazon, you can upload new copies of your book and not make changes to the editions. Leaving it blank or if you used the number ‘1’ when submitting it, it will not erase your reviews and ratings. However, as I mentioned above, if you have glaring negativity, if will be a huge benefit to creating that second edition.

Perhaps there are no errors or negative reviews, but you make a significant change to your manuscript that changes the outcome of the book or it changes the plot. Maybe you decided to add a twist that wasn’t included in the original publication.

For this type of upgrade to your book, you really should discard all those reviews anyway and publish it a new edition. In fact, Amazon requires a new edition if there were changes to the story and you can be in hot water with them if they discover you haven’t created a second or third edition.

One last thing to discuss on this topic, is once you’ve decided to republish a new edition or simply upload corrected copy of your manuscript, you can ask Amazon to make available a new download for anyone who’s purchased or ordered your eBook in the past. Again, you have to explain to Amazon why there were changes made and they will decide to send a push notification of your readers. They will scold you in their reply, stating that you should have ensured your manuscript was fully edited prior to publishing.

To republish or not to republish, that is the question that you must ask of yourself.

Thanks for joining me this week.

Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

Pirates Trilogy Goes Free Starting Saturday

That’s right, Pirates of the Galactic Empire: the Trilogy, will be free starting Saturday morning and will run through 23:59 Sunday night. I must be crazy to offer all three book in this single volume for free. Well, I’m doing this to celebrate my new narrator, voice actor, James Michael Shetler. James brings a great voice as well as special sound effects that really brings this epic masterpiece to life.

Stay tuned for sound bites as they become available…

The keys to keywords

Welcome back to my weekly blog. This week, I’m discussing more marketing tips. In particular, Keywords. We’ve discussed how important it is for a great cover and the book blurb or teaser to draw in your prospective audience. There’s one more piece to all of this and that’s being found in the first place. You do that with keywords. 

Keywords play an important part in book marketing. You have to be discovered and to do this, you need to structure keywords so prospective readers will find you. Your awesome cover and cleverly written teaser won’t do you any good if you’re not being found in the first place.

If you self-publish on Amazon, there are seven slots on the book configuration page, that are given for your keywords. These slots are not only just for one word. You can use phrases and word groups to help you in Amazon’s search engine. You have to figure out what words or phrases customers are searching for. To do this, there are a few tools out there. The first one is free. It’s actually integrated right into the Amazon search field. When you choose Kindle Store on Amazon, you can begin by typing your first keyword. Amazon will tell you what customers are searching for. Then, you can pick those words and phrases and plug them into your keyword slots for your book.

I’ll use an example to give you an idea. If you’ve written a science fiction book, you could try typing science fiction in the search field and see what Amazon comes up with.

As you can see in my example, Amazon fills in some ideas for you. Science fiction kindle books, books, romance, fantasy, short stories, and megapack are just a few of the ideas for keywords. But, will these actual keywords work for you?

The answer to that question is complicated. Sure, customers are actually typing those search terms.

However, how much competition is there for that particular keyword phrase? There’s another tool out there that will tell you how popular the phrase is and how easy or hard it will be for your book to show up on the top pages, or will your book get buried below hundreds or even thousands of other books.

This tool is called KDPRocket and it costs about a hundred bucks. The good news is, that’s a one-time fee to unlock the secrets of keywords. You also get free updates and access to new tools as they are developed.

What this tool does is rank the keyword phrase by how often it’s searched for as well as how likely your book will appear with the number of competitors there are.

Here’s how this tool looks. I used ‘science fiction military’ in my search and this is a sample of what the KDPRocket tool returns. For the first search, you can see less than a hundred searches in a month are done with a competitive score of 45, meaning is moderately difficult for your book to show. However, as you can see just adding ‘books’ to the end of the keyword phrase, bumps up the searches per month to over sixteen hundred with the same competitive score. You’ll have a better chance of being discovered. This tool also shows you the average monthly earnings, the average price of the books and how many competitors there are.

It can take a ton of time researching keywords and phrases that will actually work, but then if you own this tool, it literally saves you hours of time. 

You can find this tool at Dave Chesson has been called the kindlepreneur of Amazon and has been recognized by Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post. This site is a tremendous source of tools available as well as a web course that you can watch to help with all your marketing needs.

As a self-published author, we’re really a jack of all trades. Aside from writing an amazing book, you need to learn how to format your book as well as marketing, have it edited, get book cover design, and learn how to write a successful book teaser. All these things will help you get your book in front of your prospective audience.

Keywords are just as important if not the most important item you need to understand. However, you also must understand that once you find the right keywords and phrases to use, prospective customers, change how they search for things all the time. This means, your keywords can go stale. So, having this keyword tool will help you discover what’s working currently. Changing up your keywords is a must. I find that if these aren’t updated, your books will fall to the bottom of the search engines. Bring them up to the top by refreshing and using new words every few months. If you find the right words, you’ll know when it’s time to change it up by gauging your sales and free downloads. If your sales begin to trend downward, then it’s time to dedicate some time to finding fresh keywords, because keywords are your keys to becoming a successful self-published author.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

Book teaser tips and tricks

Book teasers are another intragyral part of marketing your work. Just like last week’s blog on book covers, your book teaser is just as important. Your teaser or book blurb, tells the prospective reader what to expect inside. However, there are a few tips and tricks that will help the reader choose you, over your competition.

Let’s not confuse your book blurb with a book synopsis. They are two completely different, yet similar things. A teaser draws your audience in. You introduce your character, their traits, and the problem they must solve. A synopsis is a complete overview of your book, including your plot twists and turns. The synopsis also includes how the novel ends and is used to market your book to agents and publishers. The teaser is used for marketing to your prospective audience and should not include too much detail.

There are certain elements to a book blurb that you must include. But there are certain elements that you should not, such as any spoilers. The blurb shouldn’t be too lengthy, either. Keep it down to a couple of hundred words. If you’re too wordy, you’ll lose prospective readers.

Whether you’re writing a blurb for science fiction and fantasy or a self-help book, they must contain similar elements. In a non-fiction or self-help book, the main character is the reader and it’s the problem they are looking to solve and what that solution is.

In fiction, you tell them who and what the problem and goals are.

Here’s an example of a book teaser that I wrote for ‘Pirates of the Galactic Empire.’

It’s the year 3245. Earth’s Republic evolved into the Galactic Empire. After the outpost wars, the Galactic Space Force became the peacekeepers. Up from the ashes rose rogue pilots. These pilots became the Pirates of the Galactic Empire.

This is a story of one of these, not so lucrative, pirates, Sean Finnigan. The only thing going for him, and the reason his crew follow him. Well, except for Petra, her unhealthy infatuation, as Finnigan called it, was her reason for following him. No, he owns one of the ancient card treasures, the fifth card. Pirates rumored, that if you were in possession of all five, you could open a gateway to paradise.

Join this, Ruthless Pirate Extraordinaire, or so he wants everyone to think, on this first installment, ‘Roadmap to Paradise.’

Scroll up and grab your copy today

Right away, you know the year, what’s happened and what’s taking place now, all under forty words. In the next paragraph, you find out who the main character is and what goes on between him and his co-prognosticator, Petra. Then, I start building about a mystery and their search for and how many treasures there are to reach their goal: finding the roadmap to paradise.

It’s clear, short, and contains a small bit of humor. Using this in the teaser shows the reader that there will be more of the same inside. By relaying to the reader that Sean wants nothing to do with Petra, yet Petra wants everything to do with him tells the reader there will be interesting dialogue and sexual tension between the two. Another important detail I wanted the reader to know, is that our main character already has one of the mystery cards. 

You’ll notice a few key details outside of the normally written teaser. There is a key feature not well known by authors that Amazon supports. Those are the ability to use hypertext code within your blurb. This allows you to highlight certain words, phrases, and aspects that draw the reader in. It allows you to stand out above your competitors.

By using this code <b>turns bold text on</b>, while using this code, turns off bold. You can also use <i>and</i> for italics and<H1>and</H1> for header text. They can also be used together as in <b><i>for bold italics and again</b></i>, to turn that feature off. 

At the bottom of my teaser, I use this header with bold text to invite the prospective reader to take an action. You can use numerous combinations in your teaser that Amazon supports. Those codes show up in my example above. I suggest searching Google for hypertext codes that are available. Keep in mind, that they can be overdone, just like a lengthy teaser.

There are a ton of writers out there that write exceptional masterpiece novels, but one area I see, over and over, is a failed book blurb. Not interesting, having spoilers, or just too wordy will instantly turn off a prospective reader. Keep it simple, short, and to the point. Make it interesting by adding emotion where appropriate. The reader wants to know key things; what is this book about?  It’s our job as writers to tell them all about it in only a couple hundred words.

Tune in next week as I discuss another key aspect of self-publishing, mastering keywords.

Until then, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

A book cover is worth a thousand words

Book covers are extremely important aside from the contents that you labored and toiled over for months. If you want people to read your awesome writing, you have to entice them to get it and you do that with the book cover.

Book covers tell your story before the reader even turns one page. There are several elements that are needed in order to compel readers to pick your book over the thousands of others in the competition. Those elements are focusing on the big picture, a clear focal point, book title and subtitle along with your name. Seems fairly simple, but I’ve seen authors leave out important details or choose cover art that is confusing and cluttered.

 Let’s take a look at one that I designed recently. This is actually a new cover for a book already published. As you can see, I am drawing the audience to the focal point on the cover. The dragon head coming at you demands your attention. Next, the title of the book is fixed at the top with the subtitle below. Since this is an anthology or collection in a bundle, I added the titles in smaller font near the bottom. This tells the reader what books are included in this title. Finally, my name, with a slightly larger font than the text above, yet smaller than the title.

The first thing the reader sees is that dragon head. That conveys a clear message that there are dragons within. Dragons are a key part of this work, so it makes sense to display one in all its glory. Next, the title ‘Warlords’ communicates that there are wars and battles inside those pages and the subtitle of ‘Saga’ tells the reader this is a lengthy story. Readers love long reads and there’s a clear picture painted for the prospective reader by telling them what books are included. This one has four volumes; Warlords of Antares, Empress of Antares, Blood Scroll of Antares, and Rise of the Warlords.

Your name as author is just as important as the title. Some authors choose to display their names at the top in a much larger font. This works if you’ve built a successful reader base that is looking for your work. I chose to put my name at the bottom since my main focus is the title and its contents.

There is a familiar term that is widely known and that’s, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Well, that is absolutely false when it comes to choosing your cover. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Covers are extremely critical in catching the reader’s eye. Pictures are really worth a thousand words. It has to get the reader interested in what’s inside. Once they open the cover and start turning pages, your writing prowess will keep them interested and turning pages.

You can hire a book design artist and spend hundreds of dollars on your cover, but truthfully, if you have a good imagination and a few basic editing skills, you can do it well under a hundred. I use Shutterstock royalty-free images. This means when you purchase an image, it’s yours to build and use. There are a few restrictions, one of which is the limitation of how many downloads if you are buying the standard licensing. However, you can by the extended license, that comes with a commercial usage that covers any media. I typically buy a package of five downloads for under fifty bucks.

Next is using some software to place your text. Again, you can spend hundreds, even thousands, on software. You don’t have to break the bank to design your own. I use two software packages; both are free to use and are called iPhotoDraw and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). Using this free software is extremely versatile. With iPhotoDraw, I can choose any font, size and placement. You can add special effects, such as shadowed text or glowing and radiant. Remember, you don’t want the cover to be too cluttered; keeping is simple is always best. With GIMP, I can manipulate images, and add to or take away elements. I can also change the image resolution, which is very important when printing. I set all my covers to a resolution of four hundred. The industry standard is a resolution of three hundred.

With book covers, if you’re not getting a good response from your readers, it’s okay to change them out once in a while. I’ve done that a few times and I always seem to get a bump in sales. If you’re not getting a lot of action on a book, try changing out the cover.

To recap, it’s very important to choose a book cover that will call the prospective reader to open it up and look inside. Keep the covers simple, yet informative by ensuring your title, subtitle and name are oriented appropriately. Choose an image that will pop and bring attention to a key element in your book. It’s more cost-effective to make your own if you have the skill set. However, you can find reputable book cover designers. If you go that route, take your time and work closely with the designer so they will capture the necessary elements.

Next week, I’m going to talk about the book synopsis and teasers.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.