Today I have the great pleasure of hosting Virginia Smith to my blog. I think Ginny’s books are an excellent example of three things that can work to inspire a reader to pick up her books for the very first time. 1. Great title. 2. Typography 3. Covers that perfectly capture the mood and variety of Ginny’s stories.
Ginny is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels, an illustrated children’s book, and more than fifty articles and short stories. She writes everything from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many international awards and two of her novels received a Holt Medallion Award of Merit.
Ginny is an active inspirational speaker and is a frequent presenter at schools and conferences, and indeed it was at a writers conference where I had the pleasure of meeting Ginny and discovering her books and her clear talent for choosing great covers.
Q: So, Ginny, what started you writing inspirational fiction? What obstacles did you overcome to succeed?
Ginny: I’m not one of those who always knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a lawyer. Alas, I got married right out of high school, started a family, and went to school at night to study computer programming. The idea of writing a book didn’t occur to me until I was in my mid-twenties and read a story in a science fiction magazine. I thought, “That wasn’t very good. I could do better than that!” So I wrote my first short story and sent it in to Asimov’s. It was rejected in something just short of light speed. There began a long and painful lesson, that writing well is a lot harder than it looks. I collected 147 rejection letters over the next twenty years before my first professional publication, which was an inspirational novel called Just As I Am.
Q: Do you have any favorite sources of inspiration? I know you write in a number of fields and what is your bliss in writing there. What keeps you writing?
Ginny: I once heard a writer say, “Inspiration is everywhere. Just open your eyes.” That really irritated me, because I struggled to come up with story ideas. Now, after 32 novels (and counting), I still struggle most of the time! Oh, there have been story ideas that leaped into my head and demanded to be written, but most of the time I have to work at finding an idea that excites me. For a while I wrote murder mysteries that were inspired by setting. (And I just had to go to Cozumel, Mexico for a research trip, right?) Many of my contemporaries start with a character. And lately, I’ve been asked by publishers to write books with a specific idea in mind, a setting or a style. But I’ve learned to trust my instincts. If I can find an interesting idea about a character I can fall in love with and want to spend time with, I think I can write a story that others will want to read.
Q: I’d love to hear about your newest release released just in time for the holiday season. I know you are excited about it and want to know the big idea behind it.
Ginny: I’m totally in love with my latest project, a series of humorous novels set in a small Kentucky town called Goose Creek.
These stories have a true ensemble cast, and the town is almost a character in its own right. The series is called Tales from the Goose Creek B&B. The first book in the series, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade was Library Journal’s top pick of the month when it was released, and they compared it to Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I was thrilled! My latest book is the fifth set in that town and its called A Goose Creek Christmas. In that story, one of the main characters, Al, is forced into early retirement. He’s so upset by this that he decides not to tell anyone—even his wife! But no secret stays hidden in Goose Creek for long. Christmas is coming, and Al doesn’t know if he’s in for a Merry Christmas, or a Matrimonial Crisis.
Q: This sounds like so much fun! I can’t wait to go buy my copy. Here’s where:
Virginia’s website: http://www.virginiasmith.org
Amazon.com author page: https://www.amazon.com/Virginia-Smith/e/B001JS1VT6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Q: in keeping with the topic of success in cover design, do you work with an independent cover artist for your indie work or do you do your own?
Ginny: I’ve been lucky enough to work with some exceptional cover designers, both with my traditional books and my indie work. I’ve only published 2 of my own books independently, but I’ve published close to 30 for other authors. Of course, with a traditional publisher the author doesn’t have much say-so in the design of the covers, but I’m totally okay with that. Publishers employ professional artists, sales people and marketing people. I benefit from their expertise.
Q: Do you have any thoughts about which of your covers has done the best job and added to your sales? Is there any way other than gut feeling that tells you a cover is doing its work?
Ginny: I think the most important thing about a cover is that it represents the feel and tone of the book, not necessarily an exact representation. Several of my contemporary relationship novels depict headless girls on the cover. That’s because the reader can picture the character any way they want. I love that. It helps the reader insert themselves into the story.
Q: Wow! I never knew that was the reason covers might show a headless character. Here’s me enlightened.
Ginny: Of course cover design has changed with the rising popularity of eBooks. Designers have to keep in mind that a 1” cover must speak to a book buyer, so intricate scenes don’t really work.
Q: Do you have any recommenations for authors wanting to republish their backlists independently? Should they be doing their own production or hiring cover artists?
Ginny: Ah, I’ve helped a lot of professional authors republish their backlists. My recommendation is this: if you are technically savvy, consider doing the work yourself. Formatting a print and eBook is not brain surgery. But if there is a learning curve. If you can afford it, or if you don’t have any desire to learn the skills, then hire professionals to do the covers and formatting for you. A sloppy, amateurish book will kill any chance that a reader will purchase other books you’ve written.
Thank you so much, Ginny, for visiting and sharing your books with us today. I love your covers! I think they perfectly speak to the tone and the fun of your writing within. More to come in my next blog post about how to choose a cover that works well with the writing within.
Thank you also, Ginny for your offer of a giveaway of two autographed copies of your wonderful Goose Creek books. Dear reader, If you’d like the chance to be part of this giveaway head over to Ginny’s website here and post a contact request: http://www.virginiasmith.org
Also, if you would like to be in the running for future giveaways, please contact me with your email and tell me what kinds of covers intrigue you to look in the pages to see what’s there.