Get a free custom cover for your novel

As I continue this 2-month series about my participation in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you are tasked with writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November), I’m detailing both my online efforts on the NaNoWriMo site and (will soon) be detailing the planning steps I’m taking with the details of my book so I can hit the ground running on November 1.   There are already several “Write-Ins” announced for November 1 in areas throughout the country (and I’m sure, world), including several in the Denver, Colorado area.  I’ll discuss those in the coming days.

But today I will discuss the NaNoWriMo offer for a free custom cover for your book.  When you complete their online form (which is an easy proposition that requires submitting a 750 word synopsis of your book, your title, your author name, and your email address), you enter into a drawing to receive a free custom-designed cover by a cover designer for the book you are writing in NaNoWriMo.  Hundreds of thousands of writers participate in NaNoWriMo every year and they are giving away 30 covers, so your odds aren’t great — but there’s no reason not to apply.  I did — I took my synopsis that I posted a few days ago and shortened it even further to arrive upon 750 words, and then submitted it. I even chose the “be surprised” option by declining to submit my email address to be notified.   If you haven’t yet entered this drawing, you may do so from the Forums of the NaNoWriMo site.

Somehow, I have a feeling I’m not going to be one of the chosen few, and not just because the odds are approximately 10,000 to 1.


Forget those odds! The good news is that if you choose to publish your NaNoWriMo book with Outskirts Press, you are GUARANTEED to get a free custom cover for your book.  Just enter the promotion code COVEROCT14 with your Diamond book package before the end of October, and we’ll hold that promotion for you until your book is finished at the end of November and ready to publish in December. You can see samples of custom covers all along the right hand side of this blog, or if you prefer to see the 100 most recent ones, simply scroll through our online bookstore.

All the details of the FREE CUSTOM COVER promotion are available by clicking here.

Self-Publishing Verdict: UNBELIEVABLE!

Please allow me to momentarily interrupt my discussion of our Facebook self publishing achievement awards to share an author’s story.  This is more than just a testimonial; it is an example of the rewarding, professional relationships we foster with our authors and how that engagement begins long before the production process, and long after the publication of the book.

Ellen Cumbess is just such a professional, and you may recall I wrote about her in a blog not too long ago when I shared the Tale of Two Custom Covers.  Ellen came to us with a pretty clear idea of the cover she wanted (she already created it with a graphic software program). With our recommendation she selected the custom cover design option and then used our Social Media Market Research option to solicit industry opinion for assistance in selecting her final custom cover design from among the two professional options our designer created for her based on her own design.  She was pleasantly surprised with how our designers took her initial concept and helped it blossom into a truly professional book cover. She proceeded through production to publication and then followed up with me personally with the following email, one that simultaneously communicates joy and the fact that publishing is not always a completely smooth journey– and that’s okay as long as the road is paved with mutual respect and professionalism.


Ok….The jury is back and the verdict is in!  UNBELIEVABLE!

 Jodee was very helpful in the beginning – explaining the process and my choices.  Then, I got the cover choices and my anxiety began to diminish.  Then, Jennifer took control of my production.  I asked her twenty questions (a week)….she patiently responded to them (despite my having asked many of them previously).  We went over and over with edits.  I feel pretty confident in saying that I jerked them around a bit – and they didn’t shake loose.  Instead, they delivered.

Please commend my “team” for a beautifully executed project.  The books arrived Friday and they are better than I had hoped.  As I mentioned to Jennifer; I have started the sequel and I will be back!

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

– Ellen Cumbess

As I said, our relationships with our authors don’t end at publication. Just this week, Ellen’s book was recognized as the Autobiography Custom Cover of the Week selection on our Facebook Page, where she received even more exposure in support of her excellent cover and ongoing marketing efforts.  Keep it up, Ellen!

A Tale of Two Custom Covers: Part 4

Last week I shared a self-publishing experience with one of our authors in regard to our Custom Cover option and how she received two fantastic concepts to choose from. She ended upon wanting them both (one for her first book and the other for her next one).  But, since she loved them both, she wasn’t sure which cover to use first.   Well, at Outskirts Press, we like offering solutions to problems like that, and in this case, our Social Media Market Research option was ideal.   With this option, we present a number of different choices to our social media community (comprised of nearly 6,000 Facebook friends and over 5,000 blog followers on our blog at, and we ask those active community members their opinions.

Authors not only get a chance to promote their books, but they also receive very good feedback from other writers and readers and book buyers.  Win-win.  Sometimes the decision is very close, and other times, there is a clear “winner” as in this case, where the “green” cover appears to be clearly in the lead (as of my writing this), with over 80% of the votes.  While choosing between the two custom cover concepts we present to authors is the most popular use of this Market Research Option, other uses include title selection and pricing scenarios.

A Tale of Two Custom Covers: A Self Publishing Author’s Reaction

After seeing her two custom covers, Ellen wrote me this email (after all, I’m just an email away for our authors), which she gave me permission to share:


Since I was quick to yell for help a few weeks ago, I thought it only fair that I also yell to shout Congratulations and WOW!  I received my two options for the cover of my book: Tales of a Lion from Jennifer Rush on Thursday and I LOVE THEM BOTH!!!!  When I think about the possible cover I threw together and what I am being presented with now, I have to wonder – What was I thinking????  Your team is fabulous!!!!

Incidentally, a sequel is planned for this book.  I would like very much to use both of these – particularly since I can’t decide between them now.  Don’t know how that would work out…or if it is even permitted.  The sequel will be entitled:  The Lonesome Wail of the Lion’s Roar.

In between times, I will complete what I am writing now:  Wish List….which I would like to have Outskirts publish as well.  I am targeting a handover to Outskirts sometime January 2013.  That will leave me writing the sequel during 2013 and publishing that no later than January 2014.

I hope I can use the second option of the cover!  Mostly, I just wanted whoever did these to know how very much I appreciate their work.

Excellent Job!


And yes, we arranged for her to secure BOTH custom covers, one for her first book and the other for her sequel.  Another happy ending for another Outskirts Press author…

A Tale of Two Custom Covers: Author Submitted vs. Professionally Designed

In yesterday’s post I talked about our custom cover option and how we often have to walk a delicate line when working with authors who have submitted their own cover designs and who we want to diplomatically point toward a “better” direction.  One of our authors, who has given me permission to recount her experience, recently went through this exact scenario. She had designed her own cover and submitted it for her book. It looked like this:

This is a relatively average example of the author-submitted covers we receive at Outskirts Press. They are almost always white (since designing on color or backgrounds introduces a whole host of technical problems that most authors simply choose to eschew) and it lacks a spine and a back cover.  But that’s why they come to us, right? To make their book even BETTER than it already is… In some cases we’re able to convince the author to consider a professionally-designed custom cover, given the overall importance of covers. In other cases, we’re not so successful and they end up publishing what they (or their designer friends) have designed in a word processor.    Fortunately, in Ellen’s case, we were successful in communicating to her the importance of a great cover; and as a result, our book designer created the following two custom covers for her to choose from:

What was Ellen’s reaction? Stay tuned…

A Tale of Two Custom Covers: Part One

One of our most popular options at Outskirts Press is our Custom Cover option, where one of our talented designers will create TWO completely separate custom covers for the author’s book, based upon the author’s own input and preferences.  The author then selects the one he/she likes best and provides further input to fine-tune it.  In general, covers are one of the “trickier” aspects of what we do because it’s a passionate subject.  All authors have very strong feelings about their covers. Many begin the process already with a cover clearly in their mind. In fact, many have already designed what they believe is a very good cover. In those cases, some authors are resistant to consider any other alternatives, even if their own cover may lack basic components of a true cover design (like a spine or a back, for instance).    It sometimes puts our people in awkward positions where they have to walk a fine line between supporting the author’s desires and at the same time bring to the author’s attention the reality that their covers, actually, aren’t very… well… good.

More often than not, we acquiesce and watch the author use what they supplied. After all, it’s their book.  But it can be frustrating, because our designers have often created really wonderful covers that all too often go to waste at the author’s whims.  On one hand, we always want our books to look as awesome as possible; on the other hand, we want to answer to the author’s wishes and give them exactly what they want. Granted, sometimes these are financial decisions, since a professional custom cover design starts at $299 (compare that to $900 and higher at other self publishing firms); but other times the decision doesn’t seem to be based upon anything other than a skewed reality of what comprises good cover design.

So with one of our authors’ kind permission, I’d like to present just such a case study over the next two days… stay tuned…

Awesome Cover of the Week marketing exposure

When we recently held a poll on our Outskirts Press blog asking our authors their opinion of a new marketing option we were thinking about introducing, the results and responses were overwhelmingly positive. Sprinkled amongst the comments in favor of the new option were questions about its cost and several suggestions that Outskirts Press should offer exposure for our books already.

This was a wonderful opportunity to share all the ways we already promote as many of our books as we can, through a variety of channels.  In fact, the last two weeks on this blog I have been discussing just that — how we promote our books and how our authors can increase their odds of receiving that included promotion.

Nevertheless, the comments made me think — maybe there was even MORE we could do. So beginning in September we will also launch the “Awesome Cover of the Week” promotion.  Approximately once a week we will showcase one of our author’s awesome book covers through our social media network on Facebook and Twitter, along with a link to the author’s webpage to learn more about the author and the book (and hopefully be compelled to buy the book).  This new feature didn’t require a “poll” per se, because who’s going to say “No” to a new free opportunity for more promotion?

Which brings us back to the ongoing series we had going for a couple weeks — more about how to get featured on our iPad/iPhone app. And I’ll continue that topic with more suggestions next…