Because Beards * Cover Reveal *

Greetings authors! Maria, Adrienne and I have a wonderful new book to tell you about: Because Beards, an anthology that will donate all our profits to The Movember Foundation. The Movember Foundation funds prostate cancer research and support as well as other men’s health initiatives.  We all love reading stories about sexy heroes.  Join with us to help support the Movember Foundation, a group that works to keep our real-life men safe, healthy & strong.  XOXO

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  • Title: Because Beards
  • Genre: Anthology, Romance
  • Cover Design: Jessica Hildreth
  • Photographer: Wander Aguiar, Wander Aguiar Photography
  • Cover Model: Jacob Rodney
  • Charity Donations To: The Movember Foundation
  • Release Date: November 1, 2016

Amazon: myBook.to/BecauseBeards
iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/zuse33r
Nook: http://tinyurl.com/jzlwv6s
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ztajbhj

Synopsis
Be it a little scruff or a full length beard, there’s nothing more attractive than a man with a well-groomed face. Masculine. Powerful. Sexy. Devoted. Lose yourself in this tantalizing collection of original short stories by your favorite romance authors in support of a great cause. Hipster CEO, bartender, best friend, baseball player—just to name a few—these men all have one thing in common: they’re bearded for your pleasure and deliver one hell of a happy ever after.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to The Movember Foundation, an organization that supports charities in the research and treatment of prostate and testicular cancer as well as other men’s health initiatives.

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Written by Alexis Alvarez, Faith Andrews, M. Andrews, Jeannine Colette, Hayley Faiman, Angelita Gill, Ace Gray, Ruthie Henrick, Scott Hildreth, Evie Lauren, Jerica MacMillan, R.C. Martin, Emmanuelle de Maupassant, Leslie McAdam, Maria Monroe, Adrienne Perry, J. Quist, Renee Rose, Kacey Shea, Martha Sweeney, and Tom Sweeney.

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#becausebeards #preorder #movember

We’re so excited about our sexy heroes.

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Stay tuned for longer excerpts…coming soon! Our release date is November 1st.

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It’s only 99 cents, it’s for a good cause, and it’s full of super sexy stories.  Thanks so much for your support. Happy reading! XOXO

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Cover Reveal ** Boston **

Greetings, readers! It’s Alexis Alvarez with a cover reveal for my upcoming contemporary romance, Boston.  It will release on Amazon on August 16th. 

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Blurb for Boston

Parker Minelli, a fitness trainer and cover model, is every woman’s dream. His Boston accent, chiseled abs and easy-going nature have women flocking to him. But when he meets author Abby, whose brains are bigger than his biceps, he sets out to prove that he’s more than just a pretty face.

Abby is thrilled—and a little breathless—when Parker agrees to work with her on her next book release. However, they soon discover that while opposites may attract, that doesn’t mean that they can overcome their differences. Especially when Parker’s supermodel ex-girlfriend reappears.

Will they be able to see the big picture and accept each other as they are, or will their differences close the book on their chance at love?

BOSTON-FULL-WRAP-FINAL-WEBSHARE

ARC Readers

 It’s filling up fast, but I  still have a few spaces available for ARC readers.  If you have a Kindle, love steamy contemporary romances with sexy heroes and a high heat level…and are willing to leave me an honest review on Amazon on the day the book goes live (August 16th), please contact me to sign up as an ARC reader. My author page is here and you can message me.

Goodreads

Find Boston here on Goodreads!  Add it to your TBR list today so you can share the delicious beauty of the cover.  Thanks!

Awesome People

I love how the cover turned out! I’d like to thank three very important people. Shane “Eyeball” Williams, thanks for modeling for me and letting me take the fantastic photograph of you during your trip to Arizona.  It was great to meet you and take your pictures!  Find Shane here on Facebook.

Shannon Passmore, you have mad skillz at cover design! Thanks for creating this amazing work of art. I’m proud to dress my book up in this gorgeous cover.  Find Shannon at http://www.shanoffformats.com/

Heather Roberts at Social Butterfly PR, thanks for the blurb (you have a great way with words) and all of the publicity and PR assistance.  You rock!  Find Heather at http://www.socialbutterflypr.net/

Thanks! Happy reading.  🙂

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A day with Shane & Kacey

Greetings!  I recently got to spend the morning with model Shane Eyeball Williams and author Kacey Shea.

kacey and shane

We walked around downtown Chandler, my hometown, chatting and taking pictures for Shane’s portfolio and Kacey’s book teasers.  Some of you may know that Shane is an model from Australia who does work for ads and book covers around the world, and has also done some television/movie work.

(Please be patient if the pictures load slowly – they’re worth the wait.)

shane by wall final bw wm Kacey is a hot new indie author with three sizzling books and more on the way.  Shane and Kacey are both fun, kind and good-hearted people who love to laugh and joke around.  Shane is rightfully proud of his hard-earned physique, but he’s no diva —  he’s a down-to-Earth nice guy with a great smile and a kind word for every fan.  Kacey can organize the best book-signings ever, and is one of the most creative and driven authors I’ve met, but she’s humble and sweet when she talks about her success as an author and her plans for future books and sexy covers.

KACEY GRAPHIC

Do you recognize that sexy guy on Uncovering Love? It’s Shane!

While we were taking pictures against a particularly scenic crumbled wall, a guy approached Shane with a business card, asking if he was a model, and told him about a new TV show. He said Shane would be perfect for it and should give him a call.  Shane later explained that this happens a lot when you’re a model, and not all of the offers are legit, but I was blown away. Can you imagine the coolness?  People just walking up to you with a business card?  Pretty impressive, right? (The man didn’t offer ME a card.)

shane on other wall cropped wm

While Shane was in the US for this visit, he took pictures with several top photographers, including Eric Battershell and Golden Czermak. I felt honored to take pictures of Shane, too — and thoroughly enjoyed it, because Shane is such fun to hang out with.

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Shane was fun and professional, and game for taking pictures in front of every cool wall around, as well as my favorite coffee shop and the bridal boutique next door. Look closely, because in one of the shots you can see his name (“Eyeball”) tattoo.

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(Ladies, Shane is pointing to the dress you should wear!)

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Please visit his website and Instagram to see more of his pics and learn more about this cool Aussie with the sexy accent and the beautiful eyes.  Those eyes!

 

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And those muscles…

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And be sure to visit Kacey’s Amazon page so you can see (and purchase) her excellent books, which — by the way — have excellent covers. One of them features Shane.  The others are beautiful, too, even though they have not been Shane-ified.

Please stop by and friend by Shane and Kacey on Facebook, and follow their progress on Instagram & Twitter. They have fun, sexy and interesting posts to share — and they’re both super cool, nice people.

Find Shane:

Shane Eyeball on Instagram

Shane Eyeball on Facebook

Shane on Twitter

Shane on the StarNow site (talent directory)

 

Find Kacey Shea:

Kacey’s website

Kacey’s Amazon page

Kacey’s Author Page on Facebook

Kacey on Twitter

Kacey on Instagram

Awesome photographers I follow:

Eric Battershell

Golden Czermak

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great day. Happy reading & picture-viewing!

Alexis Alvarez

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The Rescue – Super Sexy Pretty New Cover!

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Here it is! I’m thrilled to show you the brand new cover for The Rescue! It’s pretty and sexy and words don’t do it justice. Check it out:

The Rescue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW I GOT MY NEW COVER

I entered a contest sponsored by Books Go Social to win a custom book cover, and I was surprised and thrilled when I won! Laurence O’Brien at Books Go Social, who is a very inspirational and helpful guy, put me in touch with Debbie at The Cover Collection to begin the process of creating my new cover.

I decided I’d like a new cover for my first novel, The Rescue. The one I had was sexy, but I really wanted a cover that stood out, that reflected the softer sides of my book as well as the kinkier parts.

THE COVER DESIGN PROCESS

The process was very straightforward, and working with Debbie was a breeze. She is so professional, knows a lot about my genre, and is intelligent and creative. I highly recommend The Cover Collection and plan to use them again.

Here’s how it went down:

  1. I sent an email to her with a summary of my book, including descriptions of the main characters, the setting of the novel, and other details that stood out to me. I mentioned there’s a rescue dog that is important to the main female character, and she was savvy enough to point out that putting an animal on the cover of a romance novel might confuse people into thinking it’s a shifter novel, which it’s not. (I told you she knows the genre! And she’s super savvy!)
  2. She sent me a link to a bunch of images, including sexy men and women as well as sunset photos. (I didn’t mention the sunset, which IS important in the book, or the lake where the characters spend some time. Which makes me think she read the book, although she certainly didn’t have to. Extra points!!) I chose some images that “spoke to” me, and she went to work.
  3. Within a few days, she sent me a few sample covers using the photos I’d chosen. Let me say this: I was AMAZED. It was hard to choose the ones I liked best because they were all so good. When I narrowed it down to my favorite, I chose the font from a different cover, and a different placement of my name, and a few minor details I wanted changed to the photos. At this time, she told me that she would make as many changes as I wanted until I was totally satisfied. And she did. She was patient, and when I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted, she helped me choose and offered suggestions as well as a few different mock-ups so I could get a better idea.
  4. Finally, she presented me with the final cover, and I am beyond thrilled. I think the new cover is not only sexy, but beautiful as well, and it reflects the story so well.

THANK YOU COVER COLLECTION and BOOKS GO SOCIAL!

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Maria Monroe

 

How To Make a Book Ad for Facebook

Greetings! I’m Alexis Alvarez, and today I’d like to share an easy technique on how to create a book ad for Facebook  using Photoshop. You can do the same thing in Photoshop Elements; although my screen shots will look a bit different from what you see, the steps will be the same. I know you can use many programs to create graphics, but I’m an Adobe Girl because I’m also a photographer, and I need the Adobe platform for image manipulation.

Hand holding blank screen smartphone on blurred background with city cafe

I created this ad in Photoshop using my book cover and a picture licensed from Fotolia

I have a subscription at Fotolia, because I like their assortment of images and find their prices to fit in my budget. I found a photograph there that was perfect for my ad, so I licensed it through my subscription and downloaded it.

Note: Please make sure that any image you use is properly licensed!  It’s usually not expensive, and it’s the right thing to do. As authors, we know how much work goes into our craft, and we’re horrified if we find our books available on free/hack sites. Let’s make sure we all consistently role-model professional courtesy and respect for our fellow artists by paying for the images we use.

I used the medium-sized version of the image because a larger one is not necessary for ads.

Here’s the general process. First, I opened the photograph from Fotolia in Photoshop and duplicated the background layer; that’s a habit from photography work and I always like working on a duplicate. Then I created a brand new layer, a blank one, on top of that. I duplicated just the white part of the phone screen in the image into a new layer, resized my book cover and clipped it into that new layer, and added text. I flattened the image, resized, and saved as a .jpg. Here are the directions so you can do it, too.

  1.  Duplicate the background layer
  2. Create a brand new layer.  Select Layer –> New.
  3. Highlight the background layer copy in the layers tab. Then, select just the white part of the phone screen within your picture.

blog ad page 14. Once you have the white part of the phone screen selected with the marching ants, paste it into the blank layer that you made.

making an ad page 35.  You will now have a new layer that is an exact duplicate of the white screen part of the phone in the photo.  Leave it where it is; if you move it around for fun, be sure to put it back exactly on top of the original.

making an ad page 76.  Now open the file with your cover art and drag it into your working document.  You will need to resize it to fit. Use the Transform tool to do this (CTL T or CMD T) to make it larger, smaller and tilted to the right angle.

7.  Clip the cover art to the white box layer so it looks like it is part of the screen.  Because this particular screen is tilted slightly out of horizontal, you could use the warp feature if necessary to adjust the image; I didn’t bother. It’s good enough without additional tweaking. However, if the screen was more slanted, it would absolutely be necessary to adjust the image to make it look good.

making an ad page 98.  Add text.

9. Flatten the image, resize for web usage (I like to keep the width around 800 or 1000 pixels), and save an a .jpg file.

10. Upload to Facebook.

There you have it!  It’s really very easy – it took longer to write this tutorial than it did to create the ad.  Once you get the hang of it, you can crank these babies out like a Twinkie factory — a million a minute (probably, right?)

If you are stuck and want some additional advice, please add a comment below or message me through Facebook, and I’ll do my best to help.

Happy writing (both ad and book!)

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Dream Girl ~ My Sexy Saturday

“Maybe we should do a test run,” he murmured, his smile wicked.

ad for dream girl 3Greetings! I’m Alexis Alvarez, and I’m excited to participate in My Sexy Saturday’s Blog Hop, where romance authors link together to share seven sentences or paragraphs from a recent romance book. Today, I’d like to share a snippet from my book Dream Girl, which will release on September 1st.

Chloe, a sassy adventure lover, is a contestant on the popular Dream Girls TV show, where twenty women compete for the heart of a sexy, successful, handsome bachelor. She only joined for adventure, and she seems to always get into arguments with Dominic. But the chemistry between them is off the charts hot, and Chloe can’t stop dreaming about him.  Continue reading

Under the (Romance Book) Covers – Part 1

hi! It’s Alexis Alvarez here, and we’re going to get under the covers…the romance book covers, that is!  “A picture is worth a thousands words” never meant more, especially when you have about three seconds to capture a reader’s attention on Amazon.

cover examples

I’ve surveyed multiple authors and designers, and here are three key rules for book covers:

  1. Know Your Audience
  2. Sell the Genre
  3. Grab Attention / Awesome Image

At the same time, you should also obey these guidelines:

  1. Catchy Title
  2. Set The Mood With Effective Colors
  3. Use Easy-To-Read But Sophisticated Fonts
  4. Show Quality With a Cohesive Design
  5. Less is More – Remember You’re a Thumbnail

If you can manage all of that (!), you will have a well-designed power cover which can enhance your sales.

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Know your Audience & Sell the Genre

The most important piece of advice is to target your audience. You need the reader to know — in those critical three seconds — that your book is what they like. And you have to make them want to read the blurb.  Saavy authors know this, and they keep it in mind when they design covers or hire artists to do it for them.

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Author Cara Bristol explains, “A reader sees your book cover and decides from that cover whether to read the blurb. From the blurb (and maybe reviews), she’ll decide to whether to buy your book. If a cover doesn’t grab her attention or if something on the cover turns her off, she won’t read your book no matter how wonderful it is.”

Author Megan Michaels says, “As a reader, and definitely as a writer, I will routinely go to book review/book promo sites on Facebook and I will scroll with my finger as fast as I can. Whatever cover makes me stop and scroll back, I save it to my phone. You’d be amazed at what grabs your attention. After a few hours of that, I have a dozen or so book covers and I look at the similarities and differences, determining what made me stop.”

Author Natasha Knight puts it this way:  “When I first see a cover, it’s usually a thumbnail so I can’t see a lot of it. It absolutely has to have an image I want to click on. Something super sexy and not like every other cover – but also not completely out there for the genre I’m searching.”

covers by melody

Indie cover designer Melody Simmons at Ebook Indie book Covers says, “The genre dictates the cover to a large extent.  I cannot emphasise enough that especially new authors should browse the bestselling books and new releases and typical book covers in their particular genre.” And Melody shares this caution with new indie authors:  “I have heard from authors who tried to be different and “stand out from the crowd” that this approach did not work, and once they changed to a more genre-appropriate cover, their book actually started selling.”

Many designers agree with my experts: You want to be unique and  grab attention, but you need to do it within the general boundaries of your genre, so you don’t lose readers who expect to see something more genre-typical. Why is this?  Chalk it up to  human nature, perhaps.  If a reader is going fishing for romance books, they are going to click on books that say “romance” to them, especially ones that look similar to books they’ve enjoyed in the past.  They will appreciate a new and creative twist, especially if it’s artistic or beautiful, but if the cover is too exotic or appears too far removed from their target genre, they may not even bother to click on it.

Extremely artsy covers that don’t hint at the book inside can sell well for famous authors, because their name is their calling card, and people are going to buy their book regardless of the cover. On the other end of the spectrum, most indie authors need to let their cover explain the work. Since their name is still an unknown, and their fan base is not yet large, they — more than anyone — need a really catchy, punchy cover to entice brand new readers to give them a try. The more popular an author, the more leeway they may have to break all the rules.  Of course, there are always breakout authors that rise from obscurity to best-seller-dom on the first book, regardless of the cover.  For the vast majority of authors, though, a combination of creativity + “tried and true” seems to be the best bet.

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What else does a cover need? In addition to clearly stating the genre and catching the reader’s eye with a fantastic image, the cover also needs to look professional, have easy to read but sophisticated type, and have a cohesive feel. There are design rules that can be used at a designer’s discretion to make the image pop or draw the viewer’s eye to the cover (Rule of Thirds, Visual Triangle, Corresponding Colors, Contrast, Focal Point, Focus on Faces,etc.)  In addition, many cover experts say that including some small-point font on your cover is a good idea, even if nobody can read it (not for the title or author’s name, but for something like a little blurb or tagline); it makes the cover look more professional. It hints at something important that can only be seen if the book is clicked.

I decided to deconstruct a romance cover to show you what my very first impressions were when I looked at it.  Try it yourself, with books from other authors and your own books. What can you learn from the cover? Does it say what it’s supposed to say?

julian and lia deconstruction

If doing all the design work  sounds daunting to you as a DIY author, you’re in luck, because there are many talented cover artists you can hire. They know all the design rules, are familiar with what sells well, and they usually have paid for stock photo and font rights, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing them or running afoul of copyright laws.  They will even match the font to your photo.

Graphic artist and cover designer Jason Maxham, like many other experts, chooses font style and size carefully to match the tone and genre, in addition to carefully selecting and editing the images and colors. He takes the time to makes sure that the cover is clean, cohesive and has good visual flow. He comments that when you’re designing a cover, you find yourself judging every aspect of how it will be received.

jason quote

 Megan Michaels  believes that you need to find a cover artist who will really listen to you, understand what you want, and make it come alive with skill and art. She works with cover designer Rachel A. Olson of No Sweat Graphics. See that first cover for Finding Submission?  Megan says the cover really helped her turn that one into a top seller:  “I’ve had people tell me they bought it on the cover alone. They didn’t even read the blurb. And then Mastering Inga kept with the color scheme and elegance of Finding submission.”

megan michaels booksdeviant

Author Natasha Knight also prefers to work with a professional, artist Clarise at CT Cover Creations, instead of designing her own cover from scratch. She comments, “For Deviant, it was easy. I saw the pic of this guy and he WAS Julien. I thought I might want sunglasses and knew ‘the look’ I was going for and his grin had it.

It also helped that he was super hot and just an eye-catching guy. I mean, if you saw him walking down the street, you’d totally look. I would.

The cover artist for this was amazing. This is probably the most important part about the cover – Clarise asked a lot of questions and heard what I wanted, got a feel for what I was going for then sent me the draft. She only had to do one draft.”

jordan st john

Jordan St. John, who also writes under the name Rollin Hand, changes his cover strategy based on his genre.  When  writing as Rollin Hand, he told me that cover design  “is pretty simple. When writing as an indie I’m in the highly focused niche of spanking erotica. My objective is to make sure the consumer perusing titles understands this core fact. I don’t have to wow readers with a nifty, artsy cover.”  However, when he publishes his romances with Stormy Night Publications, his covers are done professionally to appeal to a more diverse audience.

 

Author Morganna Williams, who publishes with Stormy Night Publications, is also happy with the covers provided by SNP, and adds that although she always has input into pictures, titles and details, she relies on the graphic artist to make it all come together.  As a reader browsing covers to choose, she says:  “I love when they resemble the characters at least a little…its kind of weird but when I read a story and the pic on the front is the wrong hair color — it really bothers me.”

Morganna’s concerns are important to many readers, and a good cover designer knows it.  Melody  Simmons takes everything into account when creating a new cover, including hair color, background, dress color, and even the face, and won’t stop until it’s perfect.  She told me: “Designing a romance cover usually starts with an image search for suitable models.  Thereafter I have to carefully extract the models from the background and add them into a new composition.  Sometimes changes to the models are required.  For historical romance covers often the dress colour needs to be changed.  Hair colour could be changed and at times I even replace a whole face with another one.  After that I work on different possible backgrounds and effects.  If no further alterations are required from the author a cover can be completed in three days.”

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Even for an expert, it can take a long time to design an excellent cover.  Melody Simmons points out that many authors are talented in graphic design, but don’t have time to focus on cover creation.  She says, “Some authors release one every month or every three months, some who write longer works release twice a year. Some who write shorter books release every two weeks. This helps them maintain their sales ranking position on Amazon. With such a hectic writing schedule it is essential to outsource cover work and editing, saving every precious moment to write more.  Many authors also say you will only really start making a profit once you release your fifth or sixth book.  Readers are reluctant to buy from authors who have only one or two books published. Getting a cover designer to help you will save you money in the long run as you will get to write more and also have better covers.”

like marketing or somethingGraphic designer Jason Maxham sums it up: “You can totally judge a book by the cover. Browse through Amazon books and you will see a crazy variety of covers. Most were designed to attract a certain reader. If it didn’t appeal to you, you are not the intended audience. That’s like, marketing, or something.”  (Right?) 

Jason’s being funny, but it’s true — the cover is really the best chance you have to grab a potential buyer’s attention. The good news is that you can always create — or commission — a new cover, if you’re not satisfied with your current one.

Please stay tuned for my next blog post, “Under the Covers – Part 2,” where I’ll interview Stormy Night Publications expert cover designer Korey Mae Johnson! She’ll let us take a peek under the engine to see how she designs her covers, and will give some tips to aspiring authors on what to look for in a good cover. And of course I’ll round up some more volunteers to let me showcase some of their beautiful books!


Book Cover Artists (Click on the graphic to visit their site)

 

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no sweat graphics

Here are some of the books shown in this article. Click to find them on Amazon. Thanks! 

 

Did a cover catch your eye? Follow your gut and learn more about the author. Click to visit each author’s Amazon page!

Adrienne Perry

Alexis Alvarez

Ashe Barker

Aubrey Cara

Breanna Hayse

Cara Bristol

Casey McKay

Jaye Peaches

Jordan St. John

Kacey Shea

Katherine Deane

Kathryn R. Blake

Maddie Taylor

Maria Monroe

Megan Michaels

Morganna Williams

Natasha Knight

Rollin Hand

Stevie MacFarlane

Stormy Night Publications

Thanks so much for reading! Cheers!

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