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Jeff Bond
08-05-2017, 08:36 AM
Hi there,

I am just getting my feet wet here, and will understand if a moderator takes issue with my soliciting opinions with just 17 posts to my name.

I plan to self-publish a thriller called Blackquest 40 in the coming months, and am using a contest at 99designs to create my cover. (It's a truly amazing site for those that don't know it, such talented people from all over the world.) I've narrowed the list to four. If anyone is interested in commenting or casting a vote, please follow the link. I realize some don't go offsite and will understand that too-- unfortunately I don't own any of this art until I choose one and pay its designer, so snagging the images and posting here, I believe, would be uncool.

The poll contains a synopsis of the book. Logline goes something like, "Die Hard at a San Francisco software company."

https://99designs.com/contests/poll/916gao

A bit more about me, since I haven't gotten around to a formal "New Members" introductory post. I've been writing novels for almost (gulp) twenty years. I started writing stories about whatever interested me-- young people adjusting to business culture, withering ambitions-- with no regard for genre or commercial potential. I had a full-time job, wrote at cafes in the morning. The books were character-driven but not exactly literary. Tom Perrotta maybe? When I finished one, I would query ... and query ... and query ... and outside of a stray nibble, get nowhere. Eventually I'd fire up a new .doc and write another.

Five years ago, I finally decided to show my work to some pros and attempt a more commercial book. I wrote a literary thriller called The Winner Maker, whose themes involve ambition--but also features twists and turns. Several agents have come close to taking it, and I've done four large revisions (of course on top of the many drafts I did "finishing" the book) based on their feedback ... but I'm going on three years now with that manuscript. It's still out to one very prominent agency and if they take it, great. Otherwise I am thinking it's time to self-publish and see where it leads. (I am waiting patiently to build enough stature here to post the opening chapters, show you all what I write.)

During the many stretches when I was waiting to hear back on Winner, I wrote fairly large chunks of other books. (I am a heavy upfront plotter/outliner.) The one that's closest to ready is Blackquest. I've decided to go straight to self-pub with it for a couple reasons. One, it's more of a straight thriller than lit-thriller, and I know that category is more and more indie nowadays. Two, I have a lesbian protagonist and have been told that's a no-no with #ownvoices. (Her sexuality is not a big aspect of her character, but I do think it fits the setting and buttresses the conflicts.) Three, I think it's time to just get myself out there, get a platform going.

Beyond writing? I grew up outside Kansas City and now live in Midland, MI. I'm the primary caregiver for my 5- and 7-year-old daughters, playing with/reading to/driving them around during afternoons, writing in the mornings. 5-year-old Lucy goes to kindergarten in a month, which effectively doubles my writing time--and hopefully will allow me to do all that work I know it takes to make indie go. I play basketball. I have three cats and a 120-pound Newfoundland. Favorite books are The Corrections, War and Peace, Beautiful Ruins, Gone Girl.

If anyone else is interested in this general lane of fiction, thrillers with a bit more going on character-wise, I would love to hear from you. Between small children and books I don't have a ton of discretionary time, but I would value connecting with members here, whether as a critique partner or by contributing in forums.

Thanks very much for this site and community, and I look forward to more.
Jeff

CathleenT
08-05-2017, 08:59 AM
I voted for the one with the gal's face on the right and orange font. Hope it helps. :)

gtbun
08-05-2017, 12:44 PM
99 Designs is a pretty appalling site that forces its users to do free work. There's no relationship between client and designer, so there's no guidance just the client's often misguided opinion, and, like many bidding sites, it is full of unqualified designers - no matter what images 99 Designs advertises on its front page. It's a really disingenuous way to find designs and really harms the design industry, as well as your project.

Jeff Bond
08-05-2017, 05:12 PM
Thanks for the vote, Cathleen! Just put Dragon Hoard on my Kindle, looking forward to it. :)

Jeff Bond
08-05-2017, 05:50 PM
Thanks for responding. I honestly wasn't aware of those ethical concerns. A friend referred me; her nonprofit had used them for logo design and been thrilled.

I can see how contests could become exploitative. I posted a fairly large bounty and tried to be honest when I didn't think a design was in the running. I deferred to designers' judgment in most cases. On the cover that'll probably win (don't let it go to your head, Zed :) ), the designer nixed several of my suggestions and, I imagine, managed his time investment well.

That said, respectfully, I think bidding-style design can work for both parties. It's new, this economy where you compete for eyeballs and reputation that you hope to be compensated for later. I am probably going to start Blackquest 40 as a serial on Wattpad in order to gain followers and build my platform. I know people will be reading my stuff for free. I know (having read through the archives here) the site has plenty of amateurs and noise. Doesn't bother me. I have plenty more stories to write. To me, it's an opportunity to show people what I've got and see where it leads.

In the same vein, I've been in touch with one of my 99designs designers about some simple website art. If anyone asks for a rec on cover designers, I will absolutely pass along contact info for my new friends in Germany and Italy.

I can't speak to the entire community there, but--again, respectfully--there are amazing designers there. It's easy enough to check them out off-site and confirm that.

Thanks again for your take, gtbun. Glad to meet you.

muse
08-05-2017, 11:52 PM
I voted for the one with the girl's face, but with the white writing. I thought it had more of an air of menace.

Good luck.