Loving Your Cover – Pamela C. Rice

When you put your heart and soul into writing a book, it seems to scrimp on you packaging, (your COVER)—— is short-changing your efforts.

I see numerous first-time authors and others for go the importance of good cover illustration in particular.

I took on the challenge of creating a book cover contest to help and assist authors on their presentation. I’ve posted a number of great illustrators on KidsShelf Books FaceBook page and given weekly tips on various typeface styles. One source of typefaces (MyFont.com) gives illustrators and authors an opportunity to type in, select from thousands of fonts, choices of colors, and see how their title could appear.

Occasionally, I will offer support to authors with their covers with FREE layout tips and suggestions.

Too many authors think there is some magical software that will aid them in creating a book or cover.  However, it is not the software. It is only a tool.

When an author has spent time writing a great story, it should be supported by professional services. Many writers will attempt to hire a friend who ‘draws’ or dabbles on the computer. Cartoonish renderings and hand-drawn titles is not the direction that should be taken, if the work is to be taken seriously.

Take a look at some of the books that line the shelves in stores. The question authors should ask is, will my cover be visually competitive?

Does my cover have great composition? Is the cover clear and precise? Is there a good contrast with the background? Titles should not compete with the graphics or background. The illustration or photograph should not compete with the title. The author’s name should not compete with the title. Is the illustrator’s name on the cover? It should not compete with the author, background or graphics.

Pay as much attention to your packaging as you did with your story and that will be your solution to a successful cover.

If your are having difficulties finding an illustrator, consider checking on Social Media. Do some homework. This will give you an opportunity to view styles of various illustrators.

If you have a tight budget you can consider a few things. Wait until you get the money to pay for a professional illustrator. Most artists will work with you…OR you can call a local art school or college. All schools have Student Work Studies Programs, where they post jobs for students. Be up front with the student, let them know you have a limited budget. There are many art students who would love to illustrate a children’s book, knowing it is going to be published. What a great piece for their portfolio!

Find a book you like and use it as a guide, and a template for composition and give it to your artist as direction for what you are looking for.


So do your homework. If you’ve completed writing your book. Plan ahead and don’t rush your packaging.



Incorporate title within cover graphics is a design option.



Illustrator: Adrienne Barman                        


Are  you an author, cover artist, agent, editor, publisher or lover of books?  Have something you wish to share with others in the field? Send your article or article idea to mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com to get featured on ACNBooks.com

From One Artist to Another

Pam Rice is a frequent contribute to ACN Books and we simply adore how she helps fellow authors with their cover art.  In her latest installment she shows how the most simplest of changes can make or break your book in the eye of the reader.  Especially when that reader is a 5 year old in love with a raccoon!



KidsShelf Books specializes in diverse children’s books. There is quarterly book cover contests for children’s books.

Many covers are submitted and one of the offerings for ‘Honorable Mention’ winners is a critique.

“Promoting great design for great children’s books.

Does your book have that visual appeal that makes 

your work stand apart from the rest?”

Kathy Perry has given us permission to make suggestions on her cover. (The cover above)

Perry’s copy The series heading (Bandana Acres) is bold, but could be smaller to allow the actual title “Rascal’s Trip” to be more prominent.

The illustration could be much larger to put more focus on ‘Rascal’. It’s okay to bleed the graphics off the cover…and it is okay to overlap the heading over the illustration…. as you can see it just adds more drama’.  (the image below)





As you can see Pam Rice doesn’t go overboard in changes, but a few simple adjustments make the world of difference in showcasing the entire story!


We thank Pam Rice and Kidshelf Books for showing us that one small step, can be that giant leap into getting an audiences attention.  And we congratulate author Kathy Perry on her honorable mention award in 2018 for Bandana Acres-Rascal’s Trip cover art! You’ll can find everything that happens at Bandana Acres on Amazon.


If you are an author, reader, or person in the industry and would like to contribute a feature piece to ACNBooks please submit your topic idea to: mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com


2019 Resolutions

2019 holds a vast amount of new prospects for ACN.  Between the release of book 3: Another Word for Ledge sometime in the spring, other writing projects, and our office’s never ending wish list, we have decided to put EVERYTHING on hold and make sure all our ducks are in a row.

Our goal is to be a center for authors-a place for not only readers to discover their new favorite book, but a hub for authors on any publishing platform to connect.  To learn.  And to grow from one another.

In order to do this we have put the Indie Beginning Podcast on the back burner-not gone-just on hiatus for the time being.  For the long list of authors who have submitted to Indie Beginning we thank you for your continued patience, and promise the changes would be beneficial to all of us.

With all this being said-we want to hear from you-authors and readers.  What would you like to see come to ACN?  How about a bulletin board where you can find an editor, a graphic designer, cover artist, or BETA reader?  Or a cafe where we tell you what coffee or wine pairs best with the excerpt you are about to read from a new author?  Book club? Author interview? Author take over? More articles from the people who are sitting in the same seat you are now with their own pieces?  How about a discussion-a place to throw a clip out there to the world and get feedback from readers and writers alike?  Or a virtual library?

In the final days of 2018 we would love to hear from you-and if you could have anything from us; what would it be?  What would ACNBooks look like for you next year?



To Belong-A look into what makes it onto bookstore shelves by author John Abraham-Watne


What belongs on the shelves of a bookstore? Sure, there is fiction and non-fiction, but what about the spaces among those overly broad areas? I happen to be “in charge” of part of the Fiction area in my bookstore, but each day is a constant struggle over what should go on the shelves, due to space limitations. Most goes to the “big name” authors who have established careers with the largest publishing houses, but what about the many abundant smaller, independent presses?
Both of my novels, one of which was honored to be read by Marie on the Indie Beginning Podcast, were published by a small independent press here in Minnesota. North Star Press has been cranking out books from Minnesota authors for over forty years, and yet customers will very rarely see their books on our shelves 

(definitely not mine). There is only so much space.

I want to compare and contrast my book with Marie’s and see how they shake out. As I said, mine was put out with the support of a local independent press: they handled the editing, distribution, cover art, and ensuring I had books for my events. Marie’s was made through CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon (as is GoodReads). She had an artist friend of hers create the cover, and she told me she’s never had an issue getting the book into stores and libraries in the New York area. This is a part of the country in which I thought it would be hardest to break into the literary scene, but perhaps it is not.

51NaprcFwFL._SY346_Here we have two different options for authors just starting out, and I’m not going to tell you which one to choose. All I can do is describe the process for each and let you decide. I had to send NSP the first thirty pages of my manuscript. Once they decided based it was worth publishing, I worked with their editor to get the book into shape. This meant some back and forth over the galleys and the cover art. Once it was ready to go, they were able to place it into every bookstore that I traveled to, whether that was in Minneapolis, Buffalo, or Stillwater. But it still came down to me to flog the book and get it into people’s’ hands, and that meant doing events and reading in front of the few people who would show up to them.


I’m going to let Marie tell you in her own words about CreateSpace:

SL“The process is simple-you upload the edited final of your manuscript, or for a price they’ll edit (I use my own editor) that is after you choose the book size, print size, page color, etc. etc.  You then can either upload your own cover work or you can go through their library of cover art, or for another price, work with one of the Create Space specialists (graphic designers) who customize a complete cover for you.  After everything is loaded you can digitally view the book (not the cover), make sure the pages look right, there is not weird cut-offs, no haphazard pages, blanks, anything you can think of. Then you adjust the original file and go through it again.  You then order a proof of the book before CS will allow you to click the market and go live button. You have to look at the entire thing in your hands, cover to cover, adjust if needed or go to marking. Marketing puts you on Amazon, B&N, makes your book available to schools and libraries, puts it on Kobo, Indie Bound, Google Play, and about 10 other wholesale booksellers.  You set up your Kindle, three clicks and boom you’re done.”

She also adds: “CS also emphasizes they are not your agent, or publisher-they are solely your printing company so they are not to be named anywhere on your book-hence ACNBooks being born as an actual business entity.”

Sounds simple enough, right? I have to admit I when I was looking at publishing my first novel I turned my nose downward on an option like this, but Marie has since convinced me that this outlet has made strides in what they can accomplish for authors.
51kz-jrVBJLThis brings me back to my original topic: do independent/small press books belong on the shelf next to those published by the “big” houses (Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and those in Minneapolis like Graywolf)? It is my opinion that they do. In fact, the way the “big” publishing industry works is so bizarre and insular I sometimes wonder why authors even go that way at all. A lot of the books I see come into my used book store were popular for about six months, and then no one seemed to care anymore. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people walk in stacks of old Pattersons and Roberts, which again once they’ve traveled their life from hardcover to soft do nothing but lose value. Is this what you are looking for as a writer? I would hope not. As writers, our goal should be to produce stories that last, that shape the literary world, that affect people. While you can do this with a larger press, it isn’t mandatory.

So how do we get our books put up there with the “big names?” I’m not sure, but I would like to explore this topic more from this column.

You can find John’s books on: North Star Press’s Book Store , Amazon, and  B&N


***PLEASE NOTE*** since this article was written a statement from CreateSpace has come out stating that they will soon be merging with KDP, becoming a KDP service.  For more information please read this article from KDP detailing the merge and changes


If you are an author, reader, or person in the industry and would like to contribute a feature piece to ACNBooks please submit your topic idea to: mkf.acnbooks@gmail.com




A Moment with Author John Abraham-Watne


Abraham-WatneJohn Abraham-Watne is a published author and freelance journalist located in the Twin Cities, where he lives with his wife Mary and their cats Marble and Morrison.

John has conducted freelance journalism on local government issues for the news/entertainment website MinnyApple and local newspaper the Hill & Lake Press.

His debut novel, Our Senior Year, was published in 2014 by North Star Press. His second novel, Last Man on Campus, was published in 2015 by NSP.


Next week, John will be discussing what makes it onto bookstore shelves, a more in depth look into the worlds of small presses and self-publishing.

You can follow John on his website , or social media.


Who Couldn’t Use A Step-By-Step Guide?

28377611_1689300727800938_4579988130821354517_n(4)Our incredibly talented friend Carmilla Voiez has taken her website into the realms of ‘how to’ with blog posts about the steps to writing a novel.  We at ACN adore everything the author of the Starblood Trilogy, Broken Mirror, and other erotic horrors so why wouldn’t we hook you up with links to her thoughts on content, writer’s block, finding an ending, and editing?


A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Novel, Part One – Introduction

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Novel, Part Two – The Blank Page

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Novel, Part Three – Content and Themes

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Novel, Part Four – Style

Step-by-Step Guide to writing a novel-Part 5 How to Keep Going







With each article release we will place them here together for quick reference, if you have any questions or additions by all means leave a comment!