The Enemy Immortal Cover Design Contest Winner is…

…Levierre, with an action-packed cover full of aliens.

Levierre was the clear winner in the 99designs poll, in which over thirty people participated, and was my favorite, too. This cover will be used for both the ebook and paperback editions of my soon-to-be-released book Enemy Immortal.

Here is how the 99designs.com contest worked:

First I had to set up a contest. I described what I wanted and offered a prize for the best design. I wanted a cover for both an ebook and a paperback. I had a book blurb and some general ideas that might work, so I put those out. And I had to estimate the number of pages for the paperback since I hadn’t formatted it yet. This turned out to be the only glitch farther along. My page estimate was quite a bit off, and we had to change the spine size after everything else was over.

But back to the process. There are three levels of prizes, and three levels of designers, with only top designers allowed to compete for the top prizes. My budget suggested using the lowest level of prize, open to any designer. I figured this would be worth it since my alternatives were to find a designer with whom I had no history or try to do it myself. I took the plunge and attracted about thirty designers, who were split between entry-level and mid-level in their 99designs rating.

In the first round of the contest, any of the freelance designers on 99designs could offer a design concept. I gave many of them feedback and soon discovered which designers were easy to work with. I ended up with eight great designs, but I could only take six of them into the second round. I used the poll feature which 99designs provides and reached out to some writer friends for their input. The lowest two designs were eliminated.

The second and final round allowed me to work with the six finalists to further refine their designs.

Now the hard part–I had to pick just one.

First, I did a secret, subjective rating of how easy I found each of the designers to work with. Three of them rated terrific, and three of them only fair. Then I set this aside to use as a tie breaker if need be. The main criterion would be the best design.

I ran another poll with the six finalists and reached out to all my facebook friends to participate. A big THANK YOU to all of those who responded. Levierre was the clear winner.

The final stage of the contest was to declare the winner and obtain the source files for the cover design. This went smoothly except for the part where I found out my page-count estimate was off. Fortunately, Levierre was one of the “easy to work with” designers and quickly updated the paperback cover to fit the book properly. Now it’s (almost) ready to go. I can’t wait to have a proof copy in my hands early next week.

Workshop Mania – 3 writing workshops in 4 months

I’ve been extremely busy with writing workshops the last few months. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the writing workshop process, it usually involves (1) writing madly to get your submission in shape and send it in, usually about a month before the workshop, (2) reading and critiquing the manuscripts from all the other workshop participants, (3) going to the actual workshop and getting your writing beat up by guest professionals and the other participants, (4) fix up the story based on the critiques you received at the workshop. (The rewrite (4) can be done right away or put off until later.)

Sasquan

In late August, I attended Sasquan (WorldCon 2015) in Spokane, Washington. Sally and I made this trip into a vacation, visiting our son and daughter who live in Oregon and Washington State the first part of the week, then going to Spokane. Under a black cloud of smoke from nearby forest fires, I received writing critiques on the opening to my book, Enemy Immortal, from pros Mark Van Name, James C. Glass, Laurel Anne Hill and fellow participants. The main take-aways were that my book got off to a slow start (too much setting up) and my synopsis seemed to pack an awful lot into one book. I rewrote the opening and submitted the new version to the Sail to Success workshop in December (more on that later).

ICON

ICON – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

In October, I attended the writing workshop at ICON in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There I received writing critiques on my short story, “Jubilee,” from fellow participants and met with guest speakers Joe Haldeman, Anne Leckie and Tamara Siler Jones. The main critique was that I needed to do more to develop the romance between two of my main characters.

At ICON, the workshop participants also gave short public readings from their works (typically a different work than was critiqued). I read from the opening of Enemy Immortal (revised version). Unfortuantely I had a cold and had to cut my reading a little short. In any case, thanks to Brent Bowen from the Hugo-nominated Adventures in SciFi Publishing, who recorded this session and has released it in his pod cast. I am the last reader on Part 1.

SpaceRangersSmall

Adventures in SciFi Publishing – Part 1

 

Adventures in SciFi Publishing – Part 2

 

 

Sail to Sucess

 

 

 

 

In December, I attended Sail to Success, a writing workshop aboard the Norwegian Sky cruise ship. While cruising the Bahamas, I received writing critiques on my short story “Collisions” from Nancy Kress and on Enemy Immortal from Baen editors Jim Minz and Toni Weisskopf. I’ve updated my stories based on these critiques and they are off to the publisher’s slush piles.

Phew!  After this marathon of workshops (including a fourth, Paradise Lost, last May, which makes 4 workshops in 9 months), I plan to slow down the pace, but most likely I will workshop at this year’s WorldCon in Kansas City. I’ve also volunteered to be presenter on a panel in the KC WorldCon, so I hope something interesting comes of that.