A while ago, I wrote about the importance of accuracy on book covers. I recently read an interesting article on the Huffington Post by Polly Courtney, where she discusses her decision to leave her publisher because she was unhappy with her covers.
Dead Centre as chick-lit
Ms Courtney’s covers had a different issue to the one I discussed last time. The illustrations were accurate in and of themselves, but they didn’t match the contents of the books. The covers I used as examples in my last post were all from techno-thrillers, and they all looked like techno-thrillers. Ms Courtney’s covers, however, looked like “women’s commercial fiction” (or “chick-lit” as it’s more commonly known). The problem was that the contents weren’t chick-lit, so readers didn’t get what they expected, and consequently they left bad reviews. I imagine that if Andy McNab’s latest Nick Stone book had a cover with a long-legged women in a short skirt and high heels, it would also get lots of bad reviews from people that didn’t expect to be reading a gritty story about an ex-SAS trooper fighting Somali pirates.
As I said last time, book covers are a form of advertising. If you advertise a book as one thing when it’s actually something else, you might sell the book, but you’ll sell it to the wrong person. The person that would have enjoyed it will ignore it, assuming that it’s something it’s not. Meanwhile, the person that bought it will be unhappy. They won’t buy your next book. They won’t recommend you to their friends. They might tell their friends how bad your book is. In the modern world, they can instantly tell millions of people via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads how bad your book is. What’s more, that indictment of your book will remain on the web forever, there for anyone to find whenever they search for your book’s title or your name.
H.G. Wells, author of Little Wars, held generally anti-war views
Recently I saw the following comment on a friend’s Facebook page:
That’s one reason why I’m a bit leery about tabletop wargaming which focuses on stuff like Second World War conflicts. Real people died in those real battles, I think it’s very different playing that to cosmic space ninjas vs intergalactic elves.
The commenter is entitled to his point of view, and if he doesn’t want to play historical wargames, that’s his choice. However, I’d like to explain why I don’t agree with him.
In 1982, most Britons didn’t know where the Falkland Islands were. That changed when Argentina invaded, but although many Britons are aware of events during the Conflict, knowledge of the events that led to it seems to be much less widespread. The death of Baroness Thatcher, and her funeral (with military honours) is bound to bring the subject to the public’s attention. I think it’s worth remembering how her government’s actions led the Argentinians to believe that an invasion would not be contested.
This article has also been published in the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers Journal.
The BMPT ("Tank Support Fighting Vehicle"), sometimes known as the Terminator, is designed to provide support to tanks, APCs and IFVs. During the urban fighting in Grozny in 1995, the Russian army found that the limited elevation of the armament fitted to its armoured vehicles led to difficulty engaging the enemy, and so suffered heavy losses. Self-propelled AA guns such as the ZSU-23-4 Shilka were used as a stop-gap solution, but the very light armour on these vehicles made them vulnerable. The BMPT was developed largely as a solution to these problems, although it is also used in more open environments.
By Vitaly V. Kuzmin (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
The Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers is pleased to announce a prize draw, open to all members. Twenty-two traders have donated over £300 in books, scenarios, rules, army lists, buildings, models, figures and vouchers for one lucky winner.
“You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” is an old piece of advice. It’s generally not meant literally of course, which is probably just as well since most people ignore it when deciding whether or not to buy a book.
However, book covers, including those produced by professional publishing houses, aren’t always accurate. Cover artists are hired for their graphic design skills rather than their knowledge of the book’s subject matter. Design skills are important, as a quick look at the Lousy Book Covers tumblr will show, but this can lead to cover art that doesn’t really fit the book.
Earlier this month, I saw a film put on by the Unearthed Project at the Potteries Museum. The project aims to improve awareness of the Lidice massacre and the tremendous generosity of Stoke on Trent’s miners in helping to rebuild the village of Lidice. As part of the project, I promised to tell the story to at least two people. This blog post is part of my fulfilment of that promise.
It’s Read an Ebook Week from today to Saturday. All of my books (except Red Steel) are available free from Smashwords during the week. Use coupon code RW100 to get them for free. Red Steel is available free from Amazon until the end of Monday.
I came upon an article in the Guardian yesterday, titled “Self-publishing: a revolution for writers, not readers“, by Anna Baddeley. The article mentions Apple’s new Breakout Books promotion, which promotes self-published titles. Apparently Barnes & Noble and Kobo have similar sections. Interestingly Amazon, sometimes hailed as a great cheerleader for self-publishers, doesn’t have an equivalent.
My latest book, “Red Steel: Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of the Cold War” is now available from Amazon. I’m experimenting with KDP Select. This has a couple of advantages. The book is available in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (if you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free), and I can make it available for free for a few days. Unfortunately, it also means that I cannot make it available elsewhere.
It will be available on my website, and at other stores (Apple, B&N, Kobo etc) from April. I’m also hoping to make a print version available.