Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Writing a book is easy!…

Hello, Sunday morning…. What happened to Saturday? It went by too fast and now the weekend is almost over.  I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet… Oh well, life goes on.

Here’s a question… How many times does someone come up to you and say, ‘Writing a book is easy, I can do that with my eyes closed.’? I’ve lost count of the people that have told me that when they found out that I’m an author. Usually. I just say, ‘Go ahead, give it a try.’ I know that they haven’t looked into what it entails and probably wouldn’t see it through.

If you’re a writer, you know what’s involved. It’s not the easy job that most think it is. There’s more to becoming a writer than just writing. Most people think that if you’re a writer, then all you do is sit and write. LOL! There’s more to it than that. So, here goes a short list of what goes into the writing of a book, and this is a short list, so it doesn’t get into everything.

1: A story comes to you… This could be the whole thing or just an idea.

2: You begin to outline or put together notes on the idea for the story. At this point, you’re setting up the characters, setting, and plot.

3: You start to write the story. This process could take you a week or couple of years according to how fast the story comes to you or the time you have to get this process completed. Sometimes the story doesn’t come as fast as you want it to.

4: As you write your story, you develop an idea for the cover and at that point or somewhere down the road, you design a cover that goes with the story. (This isn’t as easy as it sounds.)

5: Alright, you’ve written your story, designed your cover, now what? Edit, edit and edit some more. Then you read your story and possibly write more or change some of the story. At this point, I’ve deleted whole chapters that hurt the flow of the story, yes, I said whole chapters. It hurt but had to be done.

As you can see, this is just the start. There are so many other steps to writing a book. This is just a quick, condensed version, but you get the idea. It’s not the easy process that some think it is. But, it’s a rewarding process once it’s done and you’ve published your work.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…IMG_1489

 

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What’s in a cover…

Good morning! We’re halfway to the weekend… So smile!

How many times have you bought a book based on the cover? Not the blurb… Not the author… Not the title… But the cover… Me, I love to look at covers. If a cover looks interesting I’ve been known to pick a book because the cover enticed me.

So, with that in mind, how much time do you spend on your cover design? Me, some of my covers have taken weeks to make just right. When I write a book, I have in mind what I want the cover to look like, of course, in reality, it’s hard to make it exactly like my vision, but we try.

The picture says it all, means so much. When I choose the photos, they have to be exact. I want the people to have the same traits as the ones in the book. I’ve been using bigstock.com for a long time, but recently, I added romancenovelcovers.com for the pictures that have models. it’s important to buy the pictures you use and have a license so that you don’t infringe on copyright laws.

The cover below took the longest to design and made my designer want to pull her hair out, but I had an idea and this totally went my way. This one took three pictures to make it happen, but it says it all.

Finding the Right Time front cover

Some of my covers have one picture and are simple, like this one.

Faith Through The Tears cover

So, whether you use many pictures or one, make a statement that tells the reader, pick me up, I’m good. The cover is the first thing a reader sees and if you don’t catch their eye, you may not catch the reader.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Tuesday Writing Tips…

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, we made it through Monday so yeah to us…

This morning I wanted to talk with you about writing. What’s that? Yes, I love to talk about writing. I receive dozens of emails each week asking me about writing. So here goes and first let me say this is my way of writing, it may not be your way.

Writing Tips by Steph – Catchy phrase, well maybe not but that’s my first tip I want to discuss and it’s the title of your book. Many authors have asked me how I get my titles. It’s a tough question, but when it comes to you it will be like a light coming on in the dark abyss of the writing brain. Some of my titles have come before the story, odd but true. Then others as I’ve been in the process on writing. It’s very important to have a notepad close by as you write. Ideas pop in your head as you write and if you don’t write them down at that moment they could float away into the vast abyss of a writers brain. Make sure that your title isn’t so long that it loses something. Some titles are one word wonders. Also don’t call it “Christmas Mystery” if it’s not a mystery.

Cover – Oh this is one of those things that could make a reader walk by without a second glance. Make sure your cover inspires or brings out something from the story, but don’t give away any secrets. Also don’t overdo it. Some authors try to put several elements on their cover, but then you overcrowd and it causes confusion. Simple covers, but effective are really good. When I talk with authors that call on Horseshoe Publishing to design their covers, I always say, “What does your book say to you?” Does it scream horror or sweet romance? Does it need to be really warm or cool in color?

Blurb – Oh the horror of writing a blurb for the back of your book. The hundred word blurb is harder to me to write than the 50,000 word book in most instances. A couple of my books actually happened backwards. I wrote the blurb before the book, but I don’t always suggest this. Make it simple, but mysterious. Don’t give a spoiler that will make the reader put it back.

Author Page – This is very important. Tell a brief bio and then put a list of your books. I always separate mine by series and stand alone’s. I also try to include an excerpt from an upcoming release at the end just before the author page. It helps sell it too.

Editing – Make sure that when you hit “PUBLISH” that your work is the best it can be. If you just write it and publish it without a second glance, well most likely that’s the only glance it will get. I checked out a book the other day and read the sample that was provided, let’s just say within a couple of sentences I knew it wasn’t making my TBR list. The spelling and grammar were terrible and that was just the first couple of sentences. What’s worse is it was simple mistakes that were blatantly obvious. Always read over your manuscript after you do a quick edit. Then edit it again. I usually find so many errors in the second edit that I missed. Then I read it out loud. Amazing how many changes you make after you hear it. Remember we’re writers and we’re not perfect, yes I said it, we’re not perfect.

I hope some of these tips helped you in a way. I love writing and talking about it. It’s always fun to get emails on the subject. If you need help with any of the above just jump over to www.horseshoe-publishing.com and let us help you make your manuscript stand out among the millions of others.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Cover Reveal – The WInner Takes All

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Every book needs a great cover and when you have an awesome cover designer it makes things go smoothly. I just love this new cover. This book has been a long time in the making. I had to step away from it for a little bit. Sometimes we writers have to do that. But now I’m into the editing and so glad to be almost finished. I love this series.

This cover took alot of thought. What’s funny is it started out totally different and by the time we were finished it was this gorgeous concoction. The original cover was very vibrant, but my designer decided on using these subtles hues of beige, gray and white, which to me looks totally awesome. 

Here’s an excerpt to give you a little tease:

The next morning it was rainy and dreary outside. She woke up in a bad mood, which was unusual for her. When she arrived at the office, Abigail had her a cup of coffee on her desk as soon as she saw her face.

“Stacy, what’s wrong? You look like you didn’t sleep well.” She looked a little concerned. She’d never seen her like this.

“I went to bed with a bad headache and it seems to have woken up with me.” As she reached for the coffee her engagement ring twinkled back at her. She smiled through the pain.

“Let me see that gorgeous ring. I heard about the engagement. Congratulations.” She looked at the ring and smiled. “That’s quite a stunning ring. You’re a lucky woman.”

“Thanks Abigail. I am a lucky woman with a lot of hard decisions.” She sat down and sighed.

“Alright, what’s up?” Abigail sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk.

“Guess when he wants to get married?” She propped her head in her hands.

“In June?” She said quietly.

“Oh, June I could work with. He wants to get married on Valentine’s Day.” She looked at Abigail and made a face.

“This Valentine’s Day?” Abigail’s eyes became huge with surprise.

“The very one.”

“No wonder you have a headache. I guess he’s not a patient man.” She grinned and gave her a wink.

“Well, that’s not very long to plan a wedding and it’s about to get really busy around here.” She sat back and sighed heavily. “What are you going to do?”

“I guess I’m going to attempt to put a wedding together in six weeks.” She looked up again. “That’s not the only decision that has to be made.”

“Let me guess, where are you two going to live?”

“Abigail, why does life have to be like this? Here I am with a dream come true groom to be and now I have to decide so much in a short time.”

“Honey, that’s life. I’m sorry you have to go through that part, but I’m happy you found a good man.” She gave her hand a pat. “You have a client coming in at ten.”

As I said, it’s in the editing department of Horseshoe Publishing, so it should be ready really soon. I’m excited to have it completed and ready to go. It’s crazy how relieved I always feel to have the cover completed. The editing is a process that excites me, but the cover is always so pivotal for the book that sometimes this part of the process is so stressful.

Horseshoe Publishing is so happy to have such a great designer. If your book needs a cover and you’re struggling, give us a shout and we’ll help you out. We’re reasonable and ready to help you today…

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Picking the right cover photo

I know I’ve harped on this before but I can’t stress enough the importance of a great cover. I was looking at some of the new books on Amazon and to tell you the truth a couple of the covers were non imaginative. They were just bland and didn’t exactly go with the book description. But of course there were some that I was just stunned at the creativity and dare I say ‘beauty’. 

Your book cover is the first thing potential readers see. If you go the extra mile it will help you tremendously. Like right now I’m scanning photos for my newest work in progress. I have in my mind what I want and it has to be perfect. I’ve looked at thousands of photos and let me tell you, it’s a lot of work, but the payoff makes it worth it.

If your cover doesn’t fit the book, why even go there. If you write a Christmas romance and put a Easter bunny on it, well you get the picture. Don’t give away too much with your cover either. This means don’t put a picture of the ending on the cover. If all the way through the book you keep the reader in the dark about if the couple is going to marry or get pregnant, you might not want to put them in a wedding dress or looking pregnant. But then again that could increase sales. Sometimes it’s a catch 22, you just have to know how to make it work.

Also, one last thing that’s a huge, big piece of advice. For next to nothing you can purchase a picture from a reputable site and make it really pop. Don’t just pull something from the family photos and make it work, unless it really goes with the book. I use several sites, but my favs are bigstockphoto.com and istockphoto.com. There are several, but these are the two I use.

As always, good writing and may God Bless You…

By the way, don’t forget that my publishing service designs great covers. Check out the tab above for Horseshoe Publishing…