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24 Books To Go | Relaunching My List

Book relaunches take planning. I have 24 books to relaunch in my backlist, plus new books that I'm writing. To help me keep everything organized I use Trello. I'm going to show you my simple Trello board and talk about how I'm using it to help stay focused on on track for this project.


Book Relaunch Trello Board

For my book relaunch project, I'm using Trello. I've recently simplified my board as I refined my project. You're welcome to take a look at my Book Relaunch Board.

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The board currently has four lists.

  • Information and Titles. This section contains information about the project, the titles, and cards for upcoming titles. I'm in the process of updating the cards with new custom fields.
  • Up Next. This list shows projects I plan to work on next. I may have done a few things with the book, but I haven't focused on it yet.
  • Works in Progress. In this list, I have the titles I'm currently working on. You can see two above.
  • Published. The final list contains titles published. None yet in this new project.

I may add additional lists in the future, such as a marketing list to track which projects I'm focusing on for my marketing efforts. I need to get some titles done first.

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C. Auguste Dupin expects simple things out of his day. A sunny spot beside the fountain to nap. His tuna delivered at precisely the right time by librarian Penny Copper. He didn’t expect someone to stuff bodies in the book returns and disrupt his entire day!The only thing left to do? Apply his considerable intellect to the task of identifying the killer while guiding Penny to the answer.

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Information and Titles

This section contains information or planning cards, as well as cards for each book on the title list. I'm flexible on due dates. As a full-time librarian, my time is split. It's hard to set firm due dates for the projects because the needs are also different. Right now, I'm working on updating my scheduling plan.

When I first started, I pictured finishing every format of each title before releasing the book. I've changed my mind. Instead I plan to focus on releasing the ebook editions first. Then I will add paperbacks on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), followed by IngramSpark for paperback, hardcover, and large print hardcovers. Eventually, I'll also do audiobook editions. 

Along the way, I plan to finish new titles and get those out as well. At that point I'll have books in progress at different stages.

Up Next

This list features projects that I'm starting to work on, but haven't focused on yet. I might be reading over a book, playing with some cover art concepts, or taking notes about what I want to do with the book. It doesn't have my focus, but it shows me what is coming up so that I'm thinking about it. The books on the information and titles list aren't in any particular order. In this list, the books are in the current order I plan to approach them. Of course I can change that order with a simple drag and drop. It's one of the things that makes the Trello board so nice. It's very easy to reorganize cards, add notes, files, or other elements to the card. I aim to only have three titles on this list at a time.

I use the Custom Fields power-up to add the status, format, and series to the cards. This feature recently lost functionality as they work on a new version. It no longer offers the ability to have custom fields only show on the back of the card, and you can't rename the custom fields button any longer. Hopefully that functionality will be restored soon.

Write Faster T-Shirt<img class=”tve_image wp-image-751″ alt=”Write Faster T-Shirt” width=”466″ height=”460″ title=”writefaster” data-id=”751″ src=”//” data-link-wrap=”1″>

Works in Progress

I track my book relaunch details on the cards in this section. I attach cover art, create checklists to track progress on edits and other steps. I use labels for the type of project and genre. Ideally I'd keep this list focused on one book, but as the image shows right now, I sometimes have multiple projects in progress. In this case the one on top is the current project that is taking most of my attention.


The published list keeps a reverse chronological list of titles published. Each card is format-specific, so titles will appear on the list (and board) each time with multiple formats. In the future, I plan to pull from this list over to a marketing list when I'm working on marketing a particular book.

My Book Launch Board

There you go! That's my book launch board. It's pretty simple. Feel free to take a look, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Science Fiction Cover Design

How to Design an Out of This World Science Fiction Cover

I need a new science fiction cover for my book Dark Matters. The last cover didn't work—my artwork probably had something to do with that, along with other factors. I'm working on new editions of my books (including brand new titles never released), and this time I want to create covers that invite readers to pick up the books. There are certain key elements that I want to look at before finalizing my new covers.


Doing My Science Fiction Cover Research

Much like I did with researching cozy mystery covers, I researched science fiction covers on current best selling titles. I followed essentially the same process, just looking at science fiction on Amazon instead to get a sense of what works today.

The straight best sellers lists contain a mix of different genres of science fiction and fantasy. It's worth taking a look to get an overall sense. After that, I took a look at the specific subgenres that I might want to target for my book.

What is Dark Matters?

It features Brock Marsden, a detective who uses Galactic technology to combine alien DNA with his own in order to gain new abilities that help him solve crimes. He's a member of the Moreau Society, a group of people who share their experiments with individual genetic modification. Brock investigates the murder of a young woman, leading him into darker corners of Olindan society.

Other worlds, advanced technology, a multitude of aliens, and an engaging cast of characters, Dark Matters might fit the Genetic Engineering category,Hard Science Fiction, or Adventure.

Science Fiction Covers

Elements of Successful Science Fiction Covers

Certain common elements stand out while looking over the lists.

  1. Covers are colorful.
  2. Covers tend to have large, decorative fonts, particularly for titles.
  3. Fonts have a ‘science fiction' feel and may also have various effects e.g. glowing, multi-colored, transparency, etc.
  4. Covers use Illustrations more than photos, many don't focus on people, using landscapes or more symbolic images. People are often small, silhouetted, or otherwise deemphasized.
  5. Spaceships are not required.

Putting Together a Science Fiction Cover

Taking my notes and ideas about the novel, I've selected artwork and put together a new cover which I think is much more effective than my previous attempts.

The design is simple and clean, and clearly conveys a science fiction feel. It works well with the book. It'll be interesting to see how this new cover works with readers.

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cozy artwork featured

Creating a Cozy Mystery Cover Part 2

I need cozy artwork, images that suggest a cozy mystery experience for my novel The Task of Auntie Dido. In my previous posts, I talked about researching cozy mystery covers, and my process for creating the Kindle cover. This time I'm talking about the process I followed to select and use artwork for the cover.


Cozy Artwork, DIY vs. Buy?

I want to have my own artwork on the covers of my books. The trouble is, that has held me back from sharing my work. I think many indie authors will choose to have someone else design their covers, working with the designer to come up with a professional and effective cover. That is the smart way to go!

There's a good argument for focusing on writing, and working with other people on things like covers. Trying to do it all myself has slowed my progress and has contributed to making it hard for people to find my books. I know this. I also know that I enjoy learning about design, art, typography and all the rest. That said, I've decided that I need to compromise if I'm going to get my books. I'll put the covers together, but will use artwork created by other artists (for now). I still want to create original artwork but that is the piece that has held things up.

Finding Artwork

I turned to for cozy artwork. They offer a number of credit or subscription plans that can be used to download artwork. The subscriptions generally offer a better deal and allow you to download the images at whatever resolution you desire. Dreamstime also uses a royalty-free license that works well for e-books and print books.

In my previous post, I talked about my plan to use silhouetted figures on the cover. Since I decided to purchase rather than create the figures, I started my search looking for vector silhouettes of an old woman and a cat.

There are  a lot of results. It is worth the time to explore, check out related or similar images, and consider what will work for the cover.

cozy artwork

Choosing Cozy Artwork

I ended up selecting two sets of vectors, one for each. Since these are sets, it meant that I had different poses to experiment with and can use others with other stories. After adding the figures, I still felt like the cover needed something more. I ended up downloading a third image of a Victorian house, which I added behind the orange overlay and applied effects to give it some texture.

Final Touches

I like this new cover much better than the one that I created for the first edition of the book several years ago. It will be interesting to see if readers respond to the cover. I think it fits well with the elements that I noted when looking at other cozy covers. I have a few things to do with the interior files but I hope to have it finished and available by the end of the week.

Next up? Designing Science Fiction Covers. I have plans for a new edition of Dark Matters and for a brand new release, Stowaway to Eternity.

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C. Auguste Dupin expects simple things out of his day. A sunny spot beside the fountain to nap. His tuna delivered at precisely the right time by librarian Penny Copper. He didn’t expect someone to stuff bodies in the book returns and disrupt his entire day!

The only thing left to do? Apply his considerable intellect to the task of identifying the killer while guiding Penny to the answer.

Covers design

Creating a Cozy Mystery Cover

I already covered researching a cozy mystery cover and gave the example of changes I made to The Murders in the Reed Moore Library. Now I'll go through the steps I follow to create a brand new cover for my C. Auguste Dupin novel, The Task of Auntie Dido.


Illustrating a Book Cover

I'm using Adobe Illustrator CC for this project, but this isn't going to turn into an Illustrator tutorial. You could use any program that allows you to use text and images together and export the result to a suitable image format for your ebook.

I'll also start out focusing on the Amazon Kindle guidelines and compare those to guidelines on other sites.

Image Size

For Kindle, the recommended image size is 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. I'll use those dimensions and save it as a preset in Illustrator for future projects. This ensures that I get the dimensions right for my project. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers extensive help for details on each stage of the project.

KDP ebook Cover preset


I want to use the same fonts that I used for the first story. I'll open that file and copy over the text to my new project. That way I have everything the same for the new project, lending to a consistent sort of branding for the new title.

So here's the interesting thing: I hadn't made sure that the cover image for the previous ebook was the recommended image size! When I copied and pasted the text it was much too small! That meant spending more time adjusting the typography to get the sizes right. With the CC library I can save elements, which is another way to move artwork, colors, or other items between projects.


I used black, white, and red in the last cover. I'd like to keep some of those, but I want to try out other colors for some of the elements in the book. A cozy mystery cover tends to feature bright colors. I have some ideas for colors to try out.

In my Illustrator document I have the text on one layer and a background layer with a filled rectangle set to black. I've locked both and created a layer in between that I will use for the illustration. I'm going to start with another filled rectangle to test out colors.

I considered different possible colors and ended up with an orange color that I like. I add a gradient effect so the color becomes lighter near the top of the book.

Cozy Mystery Cover Gradient

Iconic Illustration

With the previous title, I used a simple silhouette of a cat in front of a book to capture key elements of the story. For this title I want to do something similar, except I think that I want silhouettes of an older woman and a cat on the cover. The quickest way to do that would be to purchase the artwork. In this case, I'd like to take a stab at it myself and see what I can come up with on my own.

Cover Designs

How to Research Cover Designs For a Cozy Mystery

Effective cover designs entice us to pick up books. Good cover designs tell us what kind of experience we can expect from the book—before we even read any text on the cover. I talked about the importance of cover design in my post on releasing books fast. I want to relaunch my cozy mystery The Task of Auntie Dido, and in this post I'm going to walk through my research process.


Searching Amazon

I plan to do my research quickly, which means I'm going to go straight to the largest bookstore. I'm going to pop over to (I have it set to support the Freedom to Read Foundation), choose “Books” in the search drop-down, and search for cozy mysteries.

Amazon book search

Search Results

The first thing I do? Scroll down the page and take in the overall sense of the designs and identify the key sections that I want to focus on.


I want to dig deeper into the category section as I research covers and check out sub-categories that might fit my book better than the general search results.

My series features a cat, C. Auguste Dupin and his librarian, Penny Copper. They first appeared in The Murders in the Reed Moore Library (available as a free download).

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While I research covers for my novel, I'm also thinking about this cover and whether or not it works effectively.

Sponsored listings

Cozy Mystery search results

The first results showing are sponsored listings. It's interesting to look at these from a marketing perspective.

Goodreads popular titles

The popular titles from Goodreads is interesting as they give a perspective on what readers expect to see in a ‘cozy mystery' title.

Results list

Finally we get to the results list. On my first pass I'm looking at the covers. I want a broad perspective so I'm not focusing on details at this point. I want to take in the look and feel of books in this category. A few books catch my eye, but I'm not stopping to focus on any particular book. I don't want to copy a design!

The next page starts with a couple more sponsored titles, then back to the results again.

Initial Thoughts

After scanning several pages, it's clear that many of the titles share certain things in their cover designs.

  • Illustrated covers. Many (not all) of the covers feature an illustration ranging from cartoony and vector-art illustrations to pastoral paintings.
  • Cats feature on the covers of many of the titles (as do books and libraries!)
  • Fonts tend to be serif fonts or decorative fonts with a few sans serif fonts showing up.
  • Titles are usually large, using multiple words and different font sizes or treatments.
    • Many titles feature puns, word play, references to death or mystery.
  • Author names tend to be smaller and use a less decorative font.
  • Most covers feature bright colors
Alien eye

Catching the Eye of a Sci-Fi Reader

Who doesn't want to fall in love? Hopefully, you've had the experience of seeing that one perfect book cover that captures your gaze, pulling you into an intense and engaging experience. It entices you to pick it up. You run your fingers across the cover. Maybe you turn to read the sales copy or maybe you don't because the cover has captured you so completely.

Although today you might just look and then swipe right.

Online (Book) Dating for Sci-Fi Writers

In truth, most book sales, whether print or e-books, take place online. We're not picking up the book with the cover that catches our eyes. We're looking at the book's online profile. We read the sales copy. If other people have picked up this book, we might read what they say. If we like what we see, we buy the book. Often that means in e-book formats, though it can be print.

If we enjoy the book we might go back to that author for a second date. A third. Maybe, if it's a great match we'll give every book by that author a chance. It all starts with that first look that catches the eye.

As writers, we know the importance of making a good first impression with our book covers. I'm working on improving my covers right now, as a part of the reboot project.

Studying the Bestselling Covers Using Amazon Lists

I tend to picture book covers from decades ago when I think about science fiction book covers. The covers that I grew up seeing in bookstores in mass market paperback formats. I also love old pulp covers.

Design has changed since then. Covers need to work as thumbnail images. Most book sales take place online.

Category Covers


Sample Covers Selected by Amazon for Categories

Looking at Amazon's categories, they've selected a number of titles to represent each category. Although some of the titles appear to fit the categories, others seem odd to me. I wouldn't call Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish novels cyberpunk, for instance. Ready Player One might be a better fit. Artemis works for Hard Science Fiction.

The sidebar lists a much longer list of categories. You can also just scroll down to the list. Ready Player One sits at the top with over 15,000 reviews (at this point).

Looking For a Match

Pick a category that seems to match your novel. I'm going with the Genetic Engineering category first for my novel Dark Matters. Here are a few of the titles at the top of that list:

These show a variety of styles. Most without a complicated scene, except for Genome. My Moreau Society series centers around detective Brock Marsden. He incorporates alien DNA into his own using Galactic technology. This gives him unique abilities. It takes place on a world with many different species of aliens, as well as standard humans. Other categories might be Colonization or Adventure.

In the Colonization category we find these sorts of covers:

The covers differ in some ways from the previous category. Persepolis Rising is the only one with a complicated cover painting more in the style of older science fiction. Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles has that ‘classic' look to it. Most use simple shapes that translate easily to thumbnails.

Turning to the Adventure category we find:

Familiar names on this list! Bradbury's cover hits the same red, black and white theme. Brown's covers are easily recognizable as part of the same series. Ready Player One sports the movie-branded cover. Philip K. Dick's cover resembles the Brave New World cover.

Let's compare these to titles from the Mystery category:

Author names are much larger on these books than the science fiction titles, although you see a bit of that with Atwood and Corey. Other colors show up in these covers. I could see incorporating some of the mystery elements into a design that is more clearly science fiction.

What Are Your Favorites?

Let me know in the comments which cover designs and elements you like. What should I focus on for my new covers? I need to come up with new covers for all of my reboot titles. Right now I'm focusing on science fiction. I'll do some more posts as I get further along in the process.