Thursday, March 20, 2014

Everything I Said I'd Never Do

by Giselle Renarde

Like so many of us here at The Grip, I'm not big on technology.  I've had the same cell phone since 2005. It doesn't even have a camera. No biggie, because my camera has a camera.  I own three computers, but no tablets or e-readers.  In fact, work aside, I've never read a book digitally.  I like to hold a book in my hands.  I'm old-fashioned, that way. Bad young person! Bad!
When I started writing erotica in 2006, I'd never heard of ebooks. They didn't seem exactly legit, but I had trouble breaking into the print market, so... meh, ebooks it is. Beggars can't be choosers.  My first published work (aside from anthology contributions and stories purchased by defunct websites like Ruthie's Club and Oysters and Chocolate) was The Birthday Gift, which is now available from eXcessica, though it was originally published by the also-defunct Dark Eden Press.

Hmm... I seem to be using the word "defunct" a lot.  I'm kind of amazed I'm still here when so many publishers, websites and retailers have closed their doors.

Anyhoo, ebooks kind of took off, didn't they? I have a lot of them on the market. 100? 200? I don't know.  I've lost track. I stretched myself a little thin, sending work to a number of different publishing houses.  One of my absolute favourites, eXcessica, started out as a co-op. After a few years, it grew into even more of a co-op, meaning things like cover art and formatting became the author's responsibility.

I made this cover.
Wha-wha-wha-whaaaat?  You mean I have to figure out how to design a book cover?  And format an ebook?  I could never wrap my brain around something like that. Never! In a million years!

But when the alternative is spending money on a cover artist? Well, you know me--I'm that delightful combination of cheap and impoverished, so time to figure out how to use technology.

Made this one too.
Fortunately, I have a brother who's good with tech stuff, so he taught me the basics of GIMP.  That said, he's not a graphic designer and not a Mac person, so he didn't know a hell of a lot about it, but still... better than nothing.

I've heard other people say they tried GIMP and gave up on it.  I hear you,
writers!  It is NOT user-friendly. Two years later, I still struggle with it when I'm trying to do something I don't know or have forgotten how to do. But, to tell you the truth, I love creating book covers now... mostly because shopping for stock photos is really just a convenient excuse for staring at boobs and calling it work.

I even took the picture!
Everything's a headache at the start.  I had a list of formatting instructions from my publisher, but actually putting that information into action?  Major headache.  But do-able.  Everything is doable if you're too poor to pay someone to do it for you.  You'd be amazed at all the random things I can do because I live below the poverty line. (I really do--I'm a writer, remember!)

I'll have to tell you about delving into another realm I swore I'd never enter--self-publishing--but that's a post for another day...


  1. I should have mentioned the cover for The Birthday Gift was designed by Renee Rocco, someone who's thrived like crazy in spite of all this defuncting.

  2. And book covers have become so important over the years - unless you're a bestselling author when your name and the title suffice, you better have at least something indicative of the subject matter on display. I'm more than happy to leave it to the publisher's graphic dept!

  3. Your skills are impressive, Giselle! You know much more than I do.

  4. "shopping for stock photos is really just a convenient excuse for staring at boobs and calling it work." Where do you shop for stock photos, Giselle? Sounds like much more fun than the sites I use!

    And GIMP - definitely up there in the pantheon of worst user interfaces in the world! I actually like your covers a lot, and I'm amazed you do them with GIMP!

  5. I hate to admit that there's something I wish I could do that I'll never get around to doing, but I'm afraid self-publishing with no help is the major one. Flying in a hot-air balloon, however, is still quite possible.

  6. I keep meaning to write a blog post called "the top three reasons why I started self-publishing" and it'll just be 3 pictures of royalty cheques. Of all the things I thought I'd never do, self-publishing is the major one and not because of stigma or effort or or or... simply because of the tax implications. It's a little messy, for "international" authors.

    But, seriously, I have a royalty cheque from a publisher sitting on my dining room table in the amount of $1.20. One dollar and twenty cents. If you've got a giant backlist of previously published material, like I do, self-publishing feels like a windfall.

  7. It's all so much for a poor writer to do. When do we get time to write? Used to be the publisher did many aspects of the job. But, as you say, there's so many choices nowadays. Just what path(s) to take? I'm attending a M. Christian class in April that's focused on making money. From the looks of the promo, he goes over what works, what doesn't.

  8. I'm amazed you do your own covers—they come out quite nice. Intimidation over cover design is a major reason I've never tried self-publishing. I really don't want to have to learn how to do it.


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