Back in March, I found a mess of images that had given me some writing ideas in the past and posted them to see if anyone could come up with something. I got a few bites, which was cool, and got to read some clever stories out of it.
In honor of Halloween, I’ve found a bunch of images to use as writing prompts. If you’re interested, and think you can do it, write a Halloween story based off one of these images and post it on your blog. When it’s done, drop me a line with the link and I’ll put up a post linking to everyone’s blog (or website, or whatever). If you want to just post something here, drop me a line and I’ll post it up with your information. No rules, no requirements, no obligations. Your story is yours and it can be whatever you want it to be.
With a bit of luck, everything will be ready by October 30th, just in time for Halloween.
A couple months ago I put up a post on designing Twitter ads for writers. Hopefully a few people got something useful out of it, even if it was just a few ideas about things you can do. To celebrate Leap Day – which isn’t even a National Holiday, go figure – I figured I’d show off some of the ads I’ve come up with over the past couple months. If anyone’s interested in getting some ads done, please feel free to contact me.
For the most part the ads I’ve done have been created with open source software and licensed images. Always make sure to use licensed images; they’re not that expensive and, if you get good ones, can be reused in a variety of ways.
Inkscape (Free vector image editor. I use it for text work and layout)
GIMP (Free bitmap editor. I use it for editing and resizing images.
Canva (Free online ad creator. It’s a good piece of software, but I’m old school and stick to the flexibility of Inkscape and GIMP).
Photoshop and Illustrator are quite excellent programs, they’re just out of my price range.
Dreamstime (Great selection, buy the five images for $40 pack and get the biggest images you can)
VectorStock (Excellent supply of vector images. $25 will get you around 25 images)
Free Stock Images (You’ll have to do some digging but there are some absolute gems in here)
You can scream about your book on Twitter all day long and may or may not get anyone to pay attention. One thing that has been proven time and again, though, is tweets with images get noticed and retweeted far more often than just plain text tweets. Text tweets disappear in the chaos of Twitter, but a good image can help draw the eye. Once you got the eye, it’s up to the ad itself to keep the person looking – and hopefully clicking on the link to buy your book. Therefore, the ad has to be eye-catching, but there also has to be something in the ad that makes the reader want to learn more. That thing can be the ad itself, bits of snippets from the book in question, or any number of things. I trend toward using snippets and quotes from the actual book, but not all the time. Sometimes a straightforward image and simple copy can accomplish miraculous things.
There’s a bit of an art (that I admittedly am not spectacular at) to picking the quotes to stick in an ad. You’ve got limited space: 1024 x 512 pixels and the text has to be big enough to see easily. Ideally, ad text should be quick and easy to digest. Twitter is like drinking from a fire hose and unless the image is grabby enough no one will take a second note of it. Once they do, you’ve got mere seconds to get your point across, so the quotes can’t be complicated and need to divulge enough information to warrant a second look. If you can get a click out of it, you’re doing pretty good.
Some people prefer to stick to the same ad images and content, and that’s okay. I prefer to shake it up so the content doesn’t get stale. In advertising terms I’m probably not making the best of my “brand”, but in Twitter terms I know if I see the same thing over and over again, I’ll just scroll by it on subsequent viewings. They become just more noise.
So, here are some of the ads I’ve pulled together over the past couple months along with some notes about where the images came from and what I was trying to do with them. As an added bonus, there’s some extra content about the books here, too. Think of it as the director’s cut. At the very least, hopefully someone will get some ideas out these.
Another year has passed and once again my son and made our annual trek to the Albuquerque Supernationals. Last year’s Car Porn entry is here. For those not in the know, the Supernationals is a car show featuring a lot of custom cars, classic cars, and general muscle cars. This year also featured Henry Winkler. Had I known he was there I might have been tempted to print out a Fonz picture and have him sign it. We did get to see him, though. I waved and Mr. Winkler nodded. It was epic. This is an image-heavy post, so be prepared to wait while everything loads.
Okay, so it should probably be titled re-re-re-re-redesign, at least in the case of Henchmen, but I decided to redo the covers for both Henchmen and Arise. I liked the old covers, but they weren’t really catching anyone’s eye and didn’t really give you much of an indication of what the books were actually like. So, with the help of the fine folks in the Indie Review Exchange Group on Facebook, I rebuilt both covers. They’re not updated on Amazon yet, but I’ll get them up there pretty soon.