Tag: Rebeca Forster

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FINDING YOUR VOICE

April 15, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

“I don’t even have to see the cover of the book to know I’m reading one of your novels.”
That was the nicest compliment a reader has ever paid me. After years of practice, success and failures, constantly trying to improve my writing, it was wonderful to know that I had finally crossed a threshold: I had found my voice. For other arts, voice is almost instantly identifiable. Fine artists, for instance, communicate through color choice and brush stroke; for musicians it is in melody and instrumentation. For writers creating a recognizable voice is a bit trickier.
Our art cannot be covered up by color nor enhanced by sound; it cannot be appreciated with a mere glance or as background to another chore. A reader must invest time, attention and money to appreciate our work. These limitations make voice critical to our success in an increasingly crowded field. If we do not connect with our reader, drawing them in with our words, format construction and storytelling, they will dismiss us and move on to someone who does.
Voice is personal and intimate. Writing in a true voice puts the author on a limb and opens her to both praise and criticism. We wouldn’t write if we weren’t willing to take a chance that our voice will touch someone, move them to action, make them think, make them cry, but it is a gamble whether our most honest voice will be appreciated. If you’re ready to take a bold step, to write with abandon, to search for your true voice, here are a few thoughts that might help you find it.
Identify what you love about your favorite author. Is it pace? Characterization? Expository talent? Emulate, never copy, her style. A reader doesn’t want a cookie cutter author; they want a refreshing voice that reminds them of their favorite author.
Recognize your verbal comfort zone. Some authors embrace analogy, metaphore and any number of literary conceits; some don’t. If you’re comfortable with short clipped sentences in the vernacular, embrace that style and make it yours.
Establish your energy level. Does your first sentence slap your reader upside the head, or do you prefer a long, slow climb that settles the reader before you let them into the fray? Whichever it is, don’t let anyone try to change that.
Voice is not just a writing style it is point of view that is shared in dialogue choices, character and plot development.
Be proud of your voice. There is no right voice for an author or a genre. Evidence? Epic romances share space with glitz and glamour and all of it gave rise to chic lit. Each author’s voice was valid in the genre in its heyday, and each was unique and fresh when they hit the scene so do not discount yours if it doesn’t match the mainstream.

It is your job to discover your voice. Explore it. Nurture it. Refine it. Claim it. Present it. Be proud of it.

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Heck Yeah! E-Covers That Seduce & Sell

April 15, 2011 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , ,



See all my covers at: http://www.rebeccaforster.com/

by Rebecca Forster
I doubt this will come as a surprise, but ‘pretty’ sells. So does intriguing, shocking, soothing and sexy. That’s why I spent the last three weeks sweating over cover designs for my backlist romances (all of which I hope you’ll check out for your E-reader) and redesigning my thriller covers.

Why, you may wonder, did this exercise create such angst? After all, these are only E-covers. Nobody will run their thumb over the richly embossed type, check to weight of the stock or touch it in a bookstore. This isn’t a ‘real’ cover on a ‘real’ book. And that is my point exactly. These covers are more important than a paper because they will live on in perpetuity.

In this new publishing reality authors who have backlists and don’t own the rights to their covers must now become designers; indie authors who have never had the benefit of seeing their work transformed into a visual face a daunting task of identifying the soul of their books. Bottom line, unlike paper, an E-cover’s impact will be farther reaching than any of us can even imagine.

In the old days an author might reproduce their cover image on bookmarks and mugs. In this brave new world, E-covers pop up as thumbnails on Facebook, Linked-In and other social media posts. They are broadcast to readers of blogs and reviewers who promote your work. An E-cover makes a statement on your own website. An E-book cover is brought up full-size and full color on most readers. An E-book cover sets the tone for your book in a way that a paper cover never could because you – the author – have designed it and that is the truly exquisite bottom line.**

No longer am I at the mercy of a New York art director working off a synopsis of the book we spent months writing. Never again will I have a cover where Lady Justice had a sex change and became a sword-toting Roman guy. I have seen the last of a beautiful ocean on the cover of my book that is set in the high desert of California. Hurrah! I have taken the beaches of cover design, and planted my flag and you can too.

I must confess that initially I was like a young soldier rushing into war without realizing how important the battle was. I lucked out with my Witness Series covers but others looked amateurish, weak and unmemorable. I had that revelation as I readied my romance backlist for E-publication. I was determined to make my covers as easily identifiable as my writing style so when faced with the prospect of creating a minimum of 8 new covers, I knew I needed a plan. I studied E-covers of books I admired and those on the top seller lists. I began to experiment. I realized that, like a first draft of a book, my covers were not perfect the first time out. I began to understand that I had to kick everything up a notch to get noticed.

The new covers now reflect the theme of each book or are evocative of the mood of that work. With the romances and women’s fiction in particular I tried to limit the use of full-on portrait photography in order not to inhibit the romantic reader’s imagination. For me, blocking and color worked for the romances. For other authors, flowers and pastels might be the key to success. For my thrillers, I decided to go darker with ominous and/or graphic images. Though there are no hard and fast rules, here are some guidelines that worked for me:

• Clean is better than fussy

• People (especially parts of people) are intriguing***

• Experiment. Odd colors and disparate type faces can to work together and create drama

• The covers should reflect the tone of the book

• Slugs should be tight and to the point

• Spend a little money on stock photos (I use ‘small’).

• Plug in image search words that aren’t obvious.

• Use PowerPoint portrait setting for your design. The pixel height and width will be perfect.

So, Heck Yeah! Get on top of the the covers. Your E-career will thank you for it.****

*See more of my handiwork at http://www.rebeccaforster.com/ .
**Even if you had a designer, they worked at your direction. Own that cover!
***See The Reckless Ones – my favorite partial body shot.
****The same thoughts hold true for E-packaging!

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