What Inspired My Second Book?

Rome 041This is my first blog in a new category about my upcoming second crime thriller, False Guilt.

In both The Case for Killing and False Guilt, I use a fictitious downtown Toronto law firm, Collins, Shaw, LLP, as a partial backdrop. But False Guilt takes place not only in Toronto, but also in Rome. And that’s where I was inspired with the initial idea for the book.

I was travelling, on my own, for the first time after a lengthy health recovery. Rome had been on my bucket list since my teens, but a visit had always evaded me. I decided to treat myself to ten days there, and to take it easy and enjoy la dolce vita.

In the first five days, I saw the Coliseum, the Palatine hill, the Pantheon and most of the other amazing sights tourists usually visit in Rome and Vatican City. I enjoyed good food and warm weather. Though it was early April, I even ate dinner on a patio several times. I became so comfortable with the general layout of many of Rome’s core streets that tourists asked me for directions.

I was walking up a central thoroughfare, Via Nazionale, aiming for my hotel northwest of the Stazione Termini, when it struck me. Wouldn’t it be interesting if a man and a woman became lovers in Rome fifteen years after being separated through a still unsolved murder? And then, in Rome, began suspecting one another of that murder?

At the hotel, I went straight for a small Moleskine a good friend gave me for Christmas to capture writing ideas, and started making notes.

The story evolved – a lot – to include, for example, a reference to the garden pictured above. But, in a much expanded story, a version of the idea that came to me in Rome that day stuck. More teasers about False Guilt to come.

The eBook of False Guilt is planned for the end of fall.

Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze

Lifestyles of Traditionally vs. Self-Published Authors

Blog 24 2In my last blogs about a first-time fiction writer choosing between traditional publishing and self-publishing, I looked at non-financial considerations that might make the writer lean one way or another. Today I’m posting about the career lifestyle associated with each.

If one looks at day-to-day career lifestyles, I think those of traditionally and self-published authors are bound to be very similar. In both circumstances, it’s about getting some writing done, and then getting some self-promotion done, too.

But if one examines the career lifestyles over a longer period, say a year, differences do emerge.

In general, the traditionally published author benefits from the help provided by her publishing house (and perhaps an agent), but must also deal with the constraints the house imposes. In contrast, the lifestyle of a self-pub provides more scope for control and even entrepreneurship, but it also requires a lot of self-discipline and may be (even) lonelier.

For example, a traditionally published author will receive editing and cover design assistance from her publishing house. In some arrangements, however, changes will be imposed on her. The self-pub has full control over editing and design, but must have the tenacity to ensure good relationships are developed and the right results are achieved.

Similarly, the traditionally published author will get at least some help promoting her book while the self-pub must lead and implement the entire effort on her own.

By many accounts, the help provided by publishing houses is declining while their expectations that authors self-promote are rising. So, it is easy to overstate the lifestyle benefits to authors from working with a traditional publisher. And one must remember that the traditionally published author lives under a contract that imposes considerable constraints like the obligation to produce a certain number of books in prescribed times.

A self-pub author, in contrast, really runs her own show. This can be appealing for those who like maximum control and scope for experimentation, and who are easily self-motivated. It may be less interesting for those who like or need a contract deadline to produce.

In the end, for each writer, the choice between the career lifestyles of traditional publishing and self-publishing will be a matter of individual preference.

I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences.

Copyright © 2014 Peter Fritze

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).

What Should a Book Cover Design Achieve?

Blog23 ImageIf you’re self-publishing a book of fiction, you should pay close attention to your cover design. This seems like irrefutable advice, yet many self-pub books have an inferior cover. So why is cover design so important?

I had a good chat with my cover designer, Emma Dolan, about this.

The answer is that good cover design promotes readership and sales of a book. It does so by sending several key messages in the split second a potential reader looks at the cover.

There’s Quality Inside: A compelling cover conveys the message that the entire book is professionally done. This is especially important for a self-published book. Through the cover, a potential reader can be assured that the book’s language and layout are as good as those of traditionally published books.

The Book Offers a Good Story: An interesting cover design suggests that the book’s story is appealing, too. It might even convince a reader to experiment with the books of an author he hasn’t read before.

This is My Book’s Genre: The cover is not a standalone piece of art (well, perhaps the most successful authors could try that). Instead, it indicates the type of story a reader can expect, making him more comfortable in his purchase decision. If a cover is misleading about a book’s genre, the book will disappoint some readers, who will give the book bad reviews, which will lead to … you know.

And Here’s the Mood of the Book: Within a genre, books can have many different moods and tones. Cover design can hint at these as well, perhaps piquing some readers’ interest and leading them to buy.

I know some self-pub authors create their own covers, and sometimes the results are impressive. However, to me, the advantages of working with an experienced cover designer are overwhelming.

My designer has artistic skills far beyond mine and I’d rather be writing than figuring out Adobe Photoshop. Also, she understands past and present trends in cover design, and she can recommend the cover with the most effective messaging for the current book market. I’ll help by offering my own design ideas and looking at covers in book stores. But, together, we’ll end up with a far better product than I could on my own.

In the next post in my blog series about how to self-publish, I’ll discuss the process of working with a book cover designer.

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).

More on Book Contests

Imagining ...
Imagining …

A few blogs back, I posted that I’d started thinking about entering The Case for Killing in book contests. I then discussed Canadian book awards for which self-pub thrillers are eligible.

This post is about international book contests in which a Canadian self-pub thriller can participate. Most are based in the United States and United Kingdom.

I imagined that this post would list four or five established, well-regarded international contests. I didn’t want more because they would take too much of my time to participate in and because the costs would run too high. But I’ve ended up with only two firm choices – and some confusion.

My starting point was the list of awards for crime fiction at awards.omnimystery.com. The Case for Killing wasn’t eligible for many contests in that list. Some had a residency requirement I didn’t meet; some exclude self-published books (e.g. the Edgars); and others are for a contest associated with a conference I’m not attending.

However, two contests for which Canadian self-published thrillers are eligible and which I’d heard of from other authors are the EPIC eBook Competition (by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) and The Hammett Prize (by the International Association of Crime Writers/North American Branch). EPIC has a $35 fee and The Hammett has no fee. I think they have profile, perhaps enough to affect sales, and they’re affordable, so I’ll enter both.

Then I went to the list in the article “Book Awards for Self-Published Authors” at The Book Designer (a terrific resource if you don’t know it). Not all contests in this list are for thrillers. Then there are contests that cover many different categories but have significant entry fees. When you add postal costs to submit paperback copies of your book, which many contests require, the costs become significant.

That’s where I became confused. How do you judge the contests with higher entry fees? This article by Janice Hardy is useful. And from it, participating in next year’s Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards looks interesting.

However, as a newbie author, I feel I need to talk to more authors, publishers and agents to decide which contests have the profile that would interest me.

I’ll report back soon. But in the meantime, please share your experiences, especially about contests that helped book sales. Many thanks!

Copyright © Peter Fritze 2014

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).