Images Aren’t Only for the Outside of Your Novel!

In the quest for reader respect, self-published authors are always struggling to make our books as visually appealing as those of our traditionally published colleagues. Book cover artists can design a great cover that is formatted correctly for both digital and paper editions. One thing that I hadn’t considered was using artwork to spruce up book’s interior!

The idea came to me when I was reading a book that I can’t put my hands on. (How embarrassing.) So, I looked in another book, One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O’Neil. I’m obviously not a genius, because I straightened the image and it’s still sideways, but you can see the cute grape under the title.

Inside, at the beginning of each chapter, is another cute vine and grape leaf image. (Notice that I’m getting better, and the picture is only upside down.

Anywho, I wondered, why couldn’t I use images to spruce up my Pet Psychic books and my new novel, Civility Rules? Maybe paws for the pet psychic and a bow tie for the civility series? First, I needed artwork that I could use. I visited several sites.

Can Stock Photo

I finally decided on Dreamstime, which allows me to use the images I purchase at the Standard License level for up to 500,000 print copies of my book. Ebooks aren’t counted. WARNING:  Be sure to read the fine print v-e-r-y carefully to make sure you are purchasing the size you want and that it is available for commercial use. Some images are only available for blogs and other non-commercial use. SECOND WARNING: Make sure you don’t purchase a vector image unless you have the appropriate (and expensive) photo software, such as Adobe Photoshop.

The pricing system can be confusing. Most sites sell their images by points, so you have to purchase points before you download the image. My two images cost 30 points, or $34.99.

I’m not a formatting expert, nor am I a technical wiz (see above photo disasters), but to test it out before I bought the images, I merely inserted clip art and found that it worked, as least in the ebook copy.

Here is the Kindle preview page.

Just this one little step helps with reader perception by giving my books the look of traditionally published novel.

Sometimes, it’s the little things.

The Birth of a Book

Jacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mysteries, Barking Mad About Murder, and A Bird’s Eye View of Murder.  Her latest mystery, Civility Rules, comes out this February. To find out more, visit her website at 


I’ve never had the privilege of giving birth, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I think the event has been captured in enough books/movies/conversations that I don’t feel unqualified to compare the novel-writing process with a that of a full-term pregnancy. Both are exercises only attempted by the delusional, and the mistakes made along the way range from comical to painful, but the results are original and, one way or another, extraordinary.

I will make the author in my example female because writing “his or her” and “he or she” over and over again is a pain in the side.

The Spark of Life 

BABY: The minute the couple finds out they are expecting a baby, joyful laughter follows them wherever they go, because they are telling anyone who will listen that they are having a child with the expectation that the good news will bring forth reactions of awe and wonder. In their excitement, they seem to forget that billions of people have accomplished this same goal.

BOOK: When the author comes up with a killer idea, her first instinct is to share the idea, though often with more reticence than the happy couple. The author might toss out the idea to a group of friends or a writer’s group with the hope that her peers will be stunned into speechless envy. In her excitement, she forgets there is no such thing as a completely original idea and that her writer friends have probably have had similar ideas and tossed them out.

The Excitement Grows

BABY: Lacking sense, the happy couple will NOT keep their dreams for their child to themselves. For example, Uncle Sam, who once had hopes of becoming an All-Star baseball player until he tore his rotator cuff, won’t appreciate hearing over and over how this little wonder will someday be a member of the Hall of Fame. Foolish comparisons are made. “He’s going to be an athlete, just like his father,” even though the only reason the patriarch of the family wears sweats is because they have an elastic waste band. Mom will pipe in that their little girl will surely be at the top of her class, because Mom is still proud of the passing score she received on her dissertation about the effects of cow flatulence on the ozone. Then, to ensure their child receives a good head start, they will immediately apply at an elite preschool.

BOOK: The author, still under the delusion that her idea is original, witty, and worth millions, will start preparing her acceptance speech for the Academy, because, naturally, producers will fight to put her best-selling book on the screen. She has clear ideas of who should play her lead character. This taints her selection process of agents to whom she plans to submit her finished manuscript (which she hasn’t started writing), causing her to narrow the field to representatives of New York Times best-sellers.

The Feedback 

BABY: They asked for it. After turning every conversation  back to the subject of their upcoming child, and even flashing pictures of the ultrasound at startled relatives, the couple is surprised when their listeners fight back. They begin to receive advice, and their every movement is monitored. Subject that were formerly considered private are now everyone’s business, from gastrointestinal difficulties to their lovemaking habits.

BOOK: Everyone’s a writer! After testing out ideas, plot points, and characters on strangers in the grocery store line, the author is surprised when her listeners fight back. Advice ranges from suggestions that she include graphic sex scenes to an insistence that she pepper the story with zombies, even though she’s writing historical fiction.

The Hard Work

BABY: Morning sickness. Back pain. Strangers asking,  When are you due?  The mother’s overwhelming desire to have this alien life form removed from her body.

BOOK: Writer’s block. Grammar errors. Strangers asking, When does the book come out? And will there be a cheaper ebook available? The overwhelming desire to delete the entire  manuscript from the author’s computer hard drive.

The Final Push

BABY: This baby is coming. After nine months, the mother finally reclaims her body, but the next 18 years are booked. I’ll never do this again!

BOOK: The book is finished.  After nine months, the author types THE END. Now it’s time to market the manuscript. Maybe I can get a job as a receptionist at the car dealership.

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