Throughout 2011, I continued to research self-publishing, to be sure I had covered all of my bases before I launched this new venture. For me, researching this subject was no different from researching a technical or scientific subject for one of my novels. Of course, nothing can compensate for real-life experiences, so I knew I would make mistakes. But that’s how you learn.
My research led me to a wealth of Internet websites and blogs on how to set up my own website, how to choose and hire a professional editor, and the benefits of a good book designer—not only for the cover design, but also for the interior design. I found two websites to be invaluable in their depth of knowledge—Jane Friedman and Joel Friedlander.
My first order of business was to pick a book designer. On Joel’s website I had read two interviews he had conducted with cover designers. I made a note of these two, then searched other Internet sites until I had nailed down a total of five designers.
From here, I did more homework on each and narrowed my five to two. For a month, I waffled between these two but kept coming back to one person in particular, Fiona Raven, because her web page answered all of my questions and her site was thorough in covering the design process as well as the cost. So I contacted her and signed a contract for her to design the cover for Brainwash, the first novel to be released in the series.
Simultaneously, I was also hunting for a website designer. I wanted someone local for face-to-face contact if or when I needed it. On a personal recommendation, I hired website designer Lindsay Polyak , who is also a professional photographer. Together we’ve designed a website we can both be proud of.
While designing the site, I vacillated on Lindsay’s question about whether I planned to blog. Blogging is time-consuming, and of course takes time away from writing books. But the more I considered blogging, the more the idea grew on me—for personal reasons.
Years prior, when I mentioned to my mother that I had finished my first book, she was overjoyed to hear I had written my memoirs. Memoirs? I’m not sure where she got this idea as I never intended to write a memoir, then or now. However, her comment gave me a reason to blog.
My blog would serve as a platform to answer reader’s questions, give readers a brief bio of me, and explain how my life experiences shaped my thriller series. And, to a degree, it could serve as a mini-travelogue since Darcy loves to travel the globe in search of new adventures, just like me. My mother was disappointed I wasn’t writing a memoir, but hopefully, the brief biography and the travel blogs on my site will appease her, especially when I have the blogs bound for her reading pleasure.
Because I dislike interruptions when I am absorbed in the creation of a new Darcy McClain thriller, I wrote several months’ worth of blogs well in advance of my website release. I also set up a blog spreadsheet with future topics for blogs and the days I would post them, which is currently every Friday.
After a few photo shoots with Lindsay, we had the shots we wanted for the website, and she was hard at work knocking out the design.
In the meantime, I was focused on the cover design for Brainwash. As a novice in this department, and because I had an advertising design background, I felt it was a good idea to give Fiona some direction as to what I expected for the cover. So I provided her with a very rough mockup of the proposed cover, some color combinations, and some key components, such as a USB. Then I waited eagerly, and nervously, for her design proposals.