Tag Archives: book

please keep digital box set covers this

Please put flat covers on digital box sets, a reader’s request.

Yesterday, I fell and twisted my ankle…or twisted my ankle and fell. So, I spent most of the day laid up on the couch with an ice pack, listening to an audio book (Aurora’s End) and tending my Calibre library, which is where I keep track of my non-Kindle books. (I really wish Amazon hadn’t changed file formats to prohibit being uploaded to Calbre. That way I could have them all in one place. But that’s beside the point.) Yesterday, I made sure every book had a listed page length and, if it was part of a series, that series was listed, along with the books place in the series.

look complete we are

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t want to dedicate several tedious hours to. In this case, I was stuck on the couch anyhow. So, I was glad for a task that was mindless enough to do while following an audio book. And I feel super accomplished!

I’m likely to spend much of today similarly immobile. This morning I’m looking at covers. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I have definite opinions about such things. I realize, of course, that my opinion is just that. I don’t expect to suddenly get my own way in all things, even this small thing. But, as I have little else to do at the moment (and in case it make any difference to hear a reader’s opinion), I’m going to tell you about it.

I want to talk about the covers of box sets/anthologies/omnibuses/etc. (I’m going to use the term box set to include all of these.) Well, as an aside I also want to take a moment to yell at the top of my lungs ALWAYS PUBLISH A BOOK’S PAGE LENGTH! I don’t care if it’s a digital book. It annoys the ever living FUCK out of me to try and discover if I’m picking up a short story or an epic and only find “File size: 3031 KB.” But that isn’t what today’s post is about. Today is about book cover conventions for box sets.

I find that a lot of authors use 3D rendering of the books in the set instead of a flat cover. I 100% hate this. I don’t actually hate the renderings. I think they’re pretty and make great promo tools. But they are pictures of a box set, not a cover of a box set. (See the difference?) Let me show you why I feel the way I feel. Here’s an image from my Calibre library (ordered by length). I could have done the same in Goodreads, but, as I said, I’m working in Calibre.

3d renderings of box sets don't fit in

You see, everything matches in size and shape. There’s a flow and then, BAM you hit those box sets. They’re the wrong shape, all that white space stands out, and they break up the symmetry. They basically stand out for all the wrong reasons. This annoys me more than is probably reasonable, but enough that I’m taking the time to write a whole post about it.

I actually feel the same way about authors who don’t stick to the size and shape conventions for book covers in general too.

make your cover match industry standard
That book in the middle isn’t an audio book. It’s just a book with the wrong shaped cover and it stands out horrendously. To me, books that don’t conform to the industry convention for cover shape scream ‘poorly done self-publishing.’ I actually hate to say anyone has done something wrong, because part of the joys of self-publishing is the ability to do things differently if you choose. But, for me, allowing readers to maintain ascetic cohesion when they are looking at their digital shelves is important. Again, it’s just my opinion. But it’s one I feel strongly about.

Going back to box sets. I don’t actually care If the cover is one created for the set and just lists the series name (like cover one), has stylized rendering of the books (cover 2), just has all the covers of the books themselves (cover 3), or something else entirely.

examples of box sets
Just so long as the overall image is rectangular and flat, so that it matches other books on my shelves.

And in case you needed one more reason to stick to flat covers, let me mention #Bookstagram. I love Instagram. I post a ton of book pictures. So many, in fact, that between See Sadie Read and Sadie’s Spotlight, I have two accounts full of almost nothing but books. (The latter entirely ebooks.) I recently posted this one.

Nowhere, absolutely nowhere (not on Amazon, the author’s page, or Goodreads) can I find a flat image of this book cover. And while this was an ARC, the book has been published with this as it’s cover. Tell me how much nicer that picture would have looked with a flat image of the cover! It’s got a super pretty cover. I’d have much preferred a real image of it.

So, there you have it folks, my unequivocal opinion on the size and shape of digital box sets. Am I alone in this? Anyone feel differently?

Indie authors of the world, please stop doing this!


OK, this is me venting at the world. I’ll admit that. This isn’t a reasoned, ‘here is the proof of my argument’ post. It’s me expressing horror at something I seeing become a common, though admittedly not frequent (thank gawd) occurrence.

But if I see something that drives me so crazy that I feel the need to rant about it, I tend to also think I might not be the only person and maybe I should point this out as REALLY, REALLY, REALLY annoying. Plus, at least as far as I’m concerned, not only is this not a productive marketing strategy but it is prohibitive. I don’t buy these books. I don’t even consider buying these books. I actively dislike these books and am inclined to think badly of those who put these books out. I trust I’m making my dislike of the practice I intend to discuss quite clear.

Let me backtrack a moment, let the rest of ya’ll catch up while I tell you what the heck I’m talking about. I am talking about authors that use the ‘book description’ portion of their books’ Amazon page (or any other seller, but lets go with Amazon for simplicities’ sake) to provide the reader praise of the book instead of a blurb, description or synopsis. Why would you do that?  Especially when there is already a section for editorial reviews provided and a whole reader review section.

I have an example and I want to apologise to the author in question for using him as such, but his book’s Amazon page is a perfect example of what I’m talking about (and it’s the book that brought me to my current irritated state).

But first, here is an example of someone doing it right. It’s Julio Alexi Genao’s When You Were Pixels and I chose it simply because it was one of the last books I reviewed on Amazon, but it’s also a fabulous short.

ding it right

Notice, a brief synopsise in the ‘book description’ section. Not an essay, just enough to tempt me into reading the book. If I’m interested in reading it, I can then scroll down the screen and look at the reviews.

Now compare it to this (clicking on them should get you a bigger picture and if you could please ignore the fact that, as always, I had about a bazillion tabs open I’d be eternally grateful):

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.08.45 Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.08.33 Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 14.09.08

See, here’s my issue. The cover is really intriguing. I’m interested. I scroll down to the blurb…oh, no blurb. People seem to like it, even a couple people whose names I recognise from the book blogging scene, but I still don’t know what the book is about. So, I scroll down a little more to the “From the Author’ section, thinking maybe he might say something hinting at the book’s subject. Um…no…just more people apparently liking the mystery book.

In the end, I’d been given 44 snippets of praise, some repeating, but nothing to tell me what the book is about. Let me make a bold statement here. I don’t care how many people like your book, if it’s not about something I’m interested in. This means that in order to decide if I should buy and eventually read your book or not, the description is significantly more important than the praise. Much, much more important.

But there is a whole secondary problem here. In a world where indie/self-published authors have to work their derrières off to hustle up a couple reviews, I’m left wondering how a book that provides no clue to its content garnered 44 reviews worth quoting. Now, I’m making no allegations. This book has been out for over two years. It’s had some time to gather readers, but it still makes me wonder. And some readers are a lot less forgiving of questionable reviews than me.

So here I am, looking at the book. It has a cool cover and it’s a freebie. So I could take a chance on it, but the honest truth is that unless I know the subject, it’ll just be detritus on my kindle forever. How does this help the author sell books? How does this provide me, a reader, enjoyment? It doesn’t, not at all. In fact, it makes me irate, though I admit that’s possibly not the norm.

So take note self-publishing authors and indie publishers, this is a horrendous practice. It puts this particular reader off, and honestly, since it makes no sense at all anyway, how could I be the only one? Stop. Stop right now. Undo every book page you have in your catalogue that looks like this. It’s a stupid, ridiculous thing to do to yourself and to readers. For all that is holy in the book world, please, please, please stop doing this. I HATE IT! Am I the only one?


Book Review of Nicky Charles’ Bonded

I’ve been working my way through the Law of the Lycan series, by Nicky Charles. You can find reviews of the previous books under the reviews tab above. I grabbed Bonded from Smashwords. Hint: It’s free if you’re interested.

Description from Smashwords:
Reno’s a tough Enforcer for Lycan Link who finds himself drawn to Brandi but duty rules his life. Brandi, just on the edge of starting her career as a Disaster Control officer, falls for Reno at first sight, but are they really meant to be? Is it love or lust and does it really even matter? Enforcers and DCs don’t get along…unless fate forces them to. Bonded precedes The Mating. 

When reading a lengthy series it isn’t uncommon to have things start to fall apart 3 or 4 books in. Not the case with the Law of the Lycan series. Though this book is numbered 0.05, it is apparently the fourth one published and is every bit as good as the first. [I’ve some how gotten out of order and read it third, but I think I’ll live.]

Reno and Brandi are a heart wrenching couple. If ever there was someone you wanted to kick and then scream, “Come on, figure out their feelings already…and your own too, while your at it” in their face these two are the ones. Both try hard to do right by the other and suffer for their efforts. But I also had to respect that mutual sacrificial attitude. It also just served to make the conclusion more moving, though it did feel just a tad rushed by the time it all finally came together. I liked that Reno was strong and sexy but also inherently flawed, both in his own estimation and as a character. He felt fragile despite his strength. You don’t see that too often. Brandi was ever exasperated, but you could relate to her difficult position. I really liked Damien too and can’t wait for the next one about him.

I’ve noted a clear change in the wolves as the books progress. In book one the human and wolf were as one, with no noticeable difference in persona. By book two the wolves were exerting influence on their human counterparts, and here we find that the wolves are distinctly separate characters. They and their humans discuss problems, fight for control, and argue over decision. I’m undecided if this is an improvement or not. Be that as it may, I’m enjoying the series and intend to continue with it.