Thursday, 6 December 2018

When books have similar covers and titles

Nora Roberts was recently accused of stealing a book title. Her response was that a) she didn’t, and b) you can’t copyright a book title. It’s true. You also can’t copyright an idea. And with over 15 million books on Amazon, copycat titles, ideas, and book covers are bound to happen.

My post today is about book covers that are similar to other books, or covers that use the exact same image with different fonts. 

Unless you’re commissioning an artist or photographer to create a one-off image, chances are your cover designer will select and combine images from the stock suppliers – Shutterstock, Pixeby, Deposit Photos – and any other number of sites, and then wave their wand and combine multiple images to create a book cover. But sometimes one image is powerful enough that we don't want to mess with it. When that happens, one book cover can be similar to another. This issue of similar covers isn’t exclusive to indie publishers who have a limited budget and might be accused of slapping a book title on an image, there are many cases of the large traditional publishers releasing books with very similar book covers.

Check out some of these lists: 

This happened to me. I searched the stock images and found one I liked. I didn’t alter it because it was already a great image. Mistake number one. Most digital designers will at least alter an image. But as I said, this is such a striking image and perfect for my book cover. It captures everything I want to state. So I scoured Goodreads and Amazon to see if any other sci-fi books had this type of cover, and found none. Until I was one week away from release.

Earth Quarantined by D L Richardson

Beneath the Floating City by Donna Maree Hanson

The first time I saw my image used was when I signed up to a promotion through Instafreebie. There was a short story collection with my image! I had just lined up a bunch of blogs for a cover reveal, as well as organised the print and ebooks and uploaded them to online sites. This ebook is available on Amazon. At first I panicked and dozens of questions ran through my head. Could I pull the cover and change it? Did I want to change it? Should I say anything? I didn’t have time to do anything. The release was days away and I had to line up bloggers and reviewers. I decided to let it slide for now and make a note to contact the author and offer to buy them a new cover.

Of course I checked if this was a unique case and discovered that it wasn’t. Goodreads has a list dedicated to Same Cover Different Book. There are 359 book covers on this list. There are traditional published books and indie books. There are famous authors and unknown authors. “The Laughing Corpse (Vampire Hunter  2)” by Laurell K Hamilton, was first published in 1994, but the 2005 version has a strikingly similar cover to its copycat “Dark to Mortal Eyes” by Eric Wilson was published 2004. Considering that Laurell K has over 73K rating and 1900 reviews, I don’t think it really bothered anyone so much that the covers used the same image. Especially since the image has also been used on “Peeps” by Scott Westerfield and that book has over 23K rating and over 1900 reviews and was published in 2006.
Anyway, I decided to just continue. It wasn’t on purpose that I set out to copy another book cover image. 

However, you can imagine my disappointment when I received an email from an author enquiring about my book cover. His book also has this image. This author was also under the impression that the cover design was unique. He very kindly contacted me, and I was so thankful he didn't do the snark public tirade on Twitter approach. 

The other trend I noticed which I didn’t until I named my book. I played around with dozens of book titles and eventually settled on “Earth Quarantined”. I even googled this, entered the title in amazon and Goodreads, and thought it was unique. Not so. It’s Murphy’s Law that the minute you hit publish you find the errors. Same with book titles. I noticed more titles using the “Earth ...” titling. Some published before me, some around the same time. My book titling was by no means unique as I’d thought. I’m sure the author who accused Nora Roberts of copying her title thought she had something unique too.

Let me further add, this happens in fashion and music too. Breakfast cereal, movies, the list goes on and on. 

I’ll leave you with this last thought. If you’ve even gotten up in the morning and thought to yourself “I’m going to go for a nice drive today” and you hit the road to find that hundreds of other drivers are doing the same thing, there are few terms for this: Multiple Discovery, Zeitgeist, Simultaneous Invention, and Independent Invention. People come up with the same idea independently all the time. But let’s not carry on like idiots. Let’s acknowledge each other’s work, strike one up for zeitgeist, and let the readers decide which books they want to read.

I invite you to check out the 3 books listed in the post and support these authors. We aren't in competition with each other. We aren't going to go off the rails and scream at each other on Twitter. We are merely like-minded indie authors who are working hard to bring to life our characters and stories.  

After Terra: Year 200 by Daniel Coldspring

Beneath the Floating City by Donna Maree Hanson

Earth Quarantined by D L Richardson

Friday, 30 November 2018

10th book birthday celebration

The 10th book celebrations are almost over. Yes, Earth Quarantined is my 10th book published. I’m exhausted because the release party started 3 months ago. And now it’s almost done but it was a lot of fun. I hope you had a fun time too. I didn’t play as many party or game activities as I would have liked, because I ended up busy with running the blog tour and getting the print book ready. 

It came in time for my gathering of friends. Special mentions go out to my Batemans Bay crew who helped me eat the cake – Alicia, Mitch, their son Robbie, Jasmine, Jamie, Barry, Gloria, Donna, and my amazing husband Ian. One highlight of the afternoon was buying a bottle of sparkling wine for S18.50. I’d expected to pay $10 more. I love a bargain. 

Some people couldn’t attend, but they promised they’d catch up with me to purchase their own copy. Of course it will be signed. You know who you are. It’s on its way. 

The blog tour wielded some news subscribers to my newsletter. So yah to me. I’m always happy to pick up some new readers. I’ll send an update email very soon to welcome these new readers. There were giveaways happening around the blog tour, so if you didn’t get a chance to enter, you can sign up to my newsletter to take part in the monthly giftcard giveaway. I do one every month.

Reviews are starting to come in for Earth Quarantined. I didn’t get to send out the Advanced Copies as early as I’d have liked so I didn’t start the release with a blast of reviews. The truth is that I wanted to send out the best version of the book, so I decided it was better to hold off and get those pesky typos fixed so the reviews that came in would be good ones. A special mention to those who’ve reviewed it so far. 
The Haunted Reading Room Reviews
Buried Under Books
The Bookworm Drinketh

Christmas is coming so I’ll be working hard to get my books advertised and into the hands of readers. I’d like to get my store set up on my website too, so I can sell directly to readers. But that might take longer than anticipated. 

In the meantime, if you want to give yourself a Christmas present, Earth Quarantined is available in print and ebook. Or you might like to check out my other books.

You can read my books in this order:

If you like science fiction adventure and serial thrillers:
Earth Quarantined – Earth Quarantined (Book 1)
Welcome to the Apocalypse – Pandora (Book 1)
Welcome to the Apocalypse – CyberNexis (Book 2)
Welcome to the Apocalypse – Primal Scream (Book 3)
Earth Quarantined can be read as a standalone, but Welcome to the Apocalypse needs to be read as a series in order to appreciate the full story.

If you like supernatural thrillers and short reads:
Poison in the Pond – the Shivers Novellas (Vol 1)
Evil in the Embers – the Shivers Novellas (Vol 2)
Danger in the Dirt – the Shivers Novellas (Vol 3)
These can be read in any order but why not start from the beginning.

If you like YA paranormal fiction and stories with heart:

The Bird with the Broken Wing
Resident Spy
One Little Spell
These are all standalone titles. But if you’re looking for an order to read, go in the order listed.

What’s next for me? I have two more books in the Earth Quarantined series coming, plus anoter title in the Shivers Novellas. Plus I’ll turning my 2017 NaNoWriMo project and turning it into a paranormal murder mystery.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Top 5 ways to promote a book that cost nothing

You've just read a book and you loved it. Maybe you find writing reviews intimidating but you still want to recommend a book. Maybe you haven't gotten around to reading a book but it's on your to be read pile. Maybe you just love supporting indie authors. Maybe you want to support more indie authors but you can't afford to buy every book.

All of these are valid reasons to promote a book or your favorite author. And with the holidays coming, now is the perfect time to start recommending books.

Maybe you're an author and you've come here looking ways to promote your book that cost nothing. You can encourage your readers to do all these for your books. Make it part of the new release part. Give free ebooks for the most recommendations or most creative placement of your book.

'Word of mouth' promotion is still one of the most effective means of advertising a book. quite simply, a personal recommendation from a reader is far more powerful than a 'buy my book' cry from an author. And with 30 million books on Amazon, some of our favorite books can quickly become invisible. 

Here is my top 5 ways to promote a book that cost nothing.

1. Add the book to your Goodreads 'Want to Read' list.

How and why?

When you select a book in Goodreads you'll see the green button that asks if you 'Want to Read'. Each time you click that button, it sends an update to the Goodreads home page for everyone to see. Goodreads has millions of readers searching for new books. Your one click could help them find your favorite author.

Give yourself extra points if you also share the book to Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. The great thing about Goodreads is that is solely dedicated to books. You won't find appliances or clothing on this site.

if you haven't yet signed up, here's the link to Goodreads

2. Retweet and share posts about a book release or giveaway.

How and why?

Many of these book release and giveaway posts are from bloggers who promote books for no payment. They hosts blog tours, giveaways, excerpts, interviews, guest posts, and some review books. They do this because they love books and they want others to love the books they love. As an author, I place high value in the blogging community. 

Share, comment, like the posts. Engage with the bloggers and other readers. Keep the writing community alive.

Go into the blog site to share the post and leave a comment. This engagement is helpful and most blog posts allow you to share and it lets them know people are reading.

3. Share to social direct from the book stores.

How and why?

Did you know that you can tell your friends and followers about new books directly from the online retail sites? You can share to Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and also to email. I find this useful around holiday time when readers are looking for new books.

Retail sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Book Depository allow readers to share books as easily as clicking on the icon. 

I've found this type of sharing works best when you share to Facebook. The Twitter shares just have the text, and we all know that images matter.

4. Recommend the book on Bookbub.

How and why?

Haven't heard of Bookbub? Well you should get yourself familiar with it now! It's become the go to place for books and for books on sale. Readers sign up to the site and list their favorite genres. Then any books of interest are suggested to you via the website and their newsletter. The reason Bookbub is so popular is that it primarily features books on sale.

Books that you recommend are then highlighted on their website and sent to your followers.

Bookbub, like Goodreads, is a site solely dedicated to books. You don't have to be an author to have followers. 

Give yourself extra points if you also share the book to Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. The great thing about Goodreads is that is solely dedicated to books. You won't find appliances or clothing on this site.

If you haven't yet signed up here's the link to their site

5. Take photos of books and share to Instagram.

How and why?

Instagram grew in popularity very quickly. It's safer (especially for kids) than Facebook and often less toxic, because the user can't sit down at a keyboard and sprout off a million hateful words. You also can't save the photos shares (though you can screen shot). It's no wonder if fast becoming a great place to share your love of books.

Readers and authors are getting creative with sharing about their books, their writing habits, and books they love to read. I have yet to really maximize my usage in this platform, and it will be my 2019 goal to get better at it. 

What I love is how creative people are. They get out the props and take photos. many images are much more interesting than ones created for promotion.

There you go. My top 5 ways to promote a book or author that cost nothing other than a few minutes of time and creativity. And with the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to share books you love so your friends can find a new book as a gift or for themselves. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Photos from Oz Comic Con, Sydney 2018

It seems to take as long to unwind from planning an event as it does to actually plan the event. I attended Oz Comic Con, Sydney on 29 and 30 September at the Sydney Darling Harbour Convention Centre, and I'm only now getting around to sharing the photos of the trip, but these are the tourist photos I took.

After setting up the stall I needed a walk around Darling Harbour and a restaurant had these converted metal suitcases into a counter. 

These are photos from outside the Chinese Gardens. They were open while I was inside selling books. A lovely spot to relax.

Caught up with some author friends and Darling Harbour put on fireworks. Yeah, I like to tell myself they did it for us.

Before I headed home I wanted to check out my old workplace. I worked at Festival Records in the sales department from 1993 to 1999. It is still one of the best jobs of my life. It was so much fun to see bands most nights of the week.

63 Miller Street, the iconic home for Festival Records and Mushroom Records is now an IGA grocery store. I wonder if the people who are picking apples and potatoes realize they're standing in the spot where Mushroom Records gave hundreds of Australian musicians and singers their wonderful careers. Kylie Minogue was signed to Mushroom records. She never visited.

The stall was all set up. I had a blast. I'll be back next year.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Earth Quarantined virtual book tour Nov 15-30, 2018

It’s almost release day for Earth Quarantined, a new alien occupation fiction novel by the author of Welcome to the Apocalypse.

If you like alien occupation fiction, then this book is for you. It’s like ‘The Expanse’ but played out on Earth. Aliens brought peace to Earth and promised us the technology for interstellar travel. 300 years later and they still haven't given us this technology. They're lying to us. What they don’t know is that we’re lying to them...

Follow this virtual book tour for a chance to win Amazon giftcard. Follow to read excerpts and guest posts and book reviews.

Let's meet the blog hosts and reviewers?


Nov 15
The BookWorm Drinketh (excerpt + review)

Nov 16
Casey Moss Books (excerpt + guest post)
Readeropolis (excerpt + interview)

Nov 18

Nov 19
Buried Under Books (excerpt + review)

Nov 21
BookLoverWorm (excerpt)

Nov 27
Zooloo Book Blog (excerpt + guest post)
Alasdair Shaw (monthly round up)

Review dates tba
2 Turn the Page (excerpt + review)
Assaph Mehr - March 2019

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Coffee chat with UK author Laura Laakso

It’s my pleasure to take a break from the hectic promotional schedule and invite into my virtual cafe a UK based author or urban fantasy, Laura Laakso. She is a Finn who has lived for most of her adult life in England. She is an accountant, dog trainer and author. "Fallible Justice" is her debut novel and the first in her paranormal crime series Wilde Investigations.

Welcome Laura.

DL: Firstly, since this is a coffee chat, how do you take your coffee (or not as has been the case), and what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

LAURA: I try to avoid caffeine and I’m not one for tea either, but I do love hot chocolate. It’s at its best when made from scratch, preferably with coconut milk and cardamon. I like to curl up on the sofa in the evening with a big mug (or a small vat) of hot chocolate and either a good book or a laptop.

DL: You work full time as an accountant. So firstly well done on finding time to write. I too have a part-time job with numbers doing payroll.  What is the most difficult part for you about switching from numbers to words?

LAURA: Normally, the difficult bit is the other way around! Having spent my commute to work thinking about ways to dispose of bodies or frame someone for murder, it’s a bit of a shock to the system when I’m then supposed to give tax advice all day. After a busy day at work, I’m pretty tired and my brain rarely feels like composing a literary masterpiece. Fortunately, I’m at my most creative in the evening and a walk or some training with my dogs usually helps to clear the numerical cobwebs.

DL: You live in the UK and one of your dogs is an Australian Shepherd. As I’m from Australia,  it fascinates me that one of our working dogs has made it to the other side of the world. How did you come to live with an Australian Shepherd?

LAURA: Despite the name, Aussies are actually a North American breed, thought to have originated from stock brought over by Australian immigrants. I’ve known Halla’s breeder for many years and loved her Aussies. When my Corgi was getting older, I wanted to get a slightly larger working dog and thought that Aussies were a good compromise between a brilliant working breed and not being quite as smart as Border Collies. In Halla, I’ve got a dog who is as happy to sleep at my feet at a board gaming shop, spend all day at a dog show or curl up on my lap (and usually on my manuscript) on the sofa.

DL: Your debut novel is a paranormal crime series, with two more books planned. What is it about paranormal and crime that inspires you to write?

LAURA: I’ve been a fan of crime novels ever since I discovered Agatha Christie at a local library as a teenager. But for a long time, I thought I wasn’t really crafty enough to come up with a convincing plot for a crime novel. Since moving to England, I’ve read a lot of paranormal novels and have roleplayed plenty of games with magical elements in modern settings. Through both, I’ve developed a fascination for seemingly normal worlds with fantasy elements within them. The Wilde Investigations series takes it a step further because magic is out in the open rather than something to be hidden at all costs. When I got the idea for an infallible justice system and figured out how to fool it, I knew I had a paranormal crime story in my hands. From that first idea, I’ve been hooked! I love dreaming up different crimes that involve an element of magic without the supernatural elements being a Deux ex Machina type solution.

DL: And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

LAURA: Definitely cake. I’m the person who complains in the office that the biscuits my colleagues have bought are boring. I’m trying to perfect a lemon drizzle cake at the moment, so I think I’m going to have to pick that as my favourite.


“I am running through the wilderness and the wilderness runs through me.”

In Old London, where paranormal races co-exist with ordinary humans, criminal verdicts delivered by the all-seeing Heralds of Justice are infallible. After a man is declared guilty of murder and sentenced to death, his daughter turns to private investigator Yannia Wilde to do the impossible and prove the Heralds wrong.

Yannia has escaped a restrictive life in the Wild Folk conclave where she was raised, but her origins mark her as an outsider in the city. These origins lend her the sensory abilities of all of nature. Yet Yannia is lonely and struggling to adapt to life in the city. The case could be the break she needs. She enlists the help of her only friend, a Bird Shaman named Karrion, and together they accept the challenge of proving a guilty man innocent.

So begins a breathless race against time and against all conceivable odds. Can Yannia and Karrion save a man who has been judged infallibly guilty?

Available Nov 8, 2018


Launching a book is a lot like planning a wedding

It's 8 days till release. I have 5 browsers open on the computer; multiple word documents and excel spreadsheets all keeping track of the blog posts and reviewers I've sent materials to; plus I have my notepad and dozens of post-its with all the last minute things that still need to be done before Earth Quarantined is officially released on November 15.

Planning a book launch is a lot like planning a wedding. I worry that the weather will ruin everything, I worry that I've forgotten something major, I worry that nobody will show up, I worry that I paid too much for the frills.

So it's 8 days before release and I've been getting up at 5am to answer emails and send out the review copies and create banners for the pre-tour buzz. My notepad has gone from one page of things to do, to 3 pages. I've got ads booked, ads planned. I'm contacting publicity companies for rates to compare what I'm doing versus what they'll do. The newsletters are still to go out. Someone showed a photo on Facebook of a cake with the book cover as the icing and now I want one of those...

What's a wedding without cake, after?

It's 8 days out and the ebooks are uploaded and available for pre-order. Next up is to upload the print files and write one more guest post for the book tour. Everything is coming together, but there's still things to do. Like a wedding, there's always those last minute changes and extra guests you have to find a way to include into the plans.

Like any event planner, my biggest worry is that nobody will show up or support me on the day. I'm counting solely on my planning to get me as much exposure as I can afford. I'm still drumming up business, and I will still be drumming up business even after release.

Part of that drumming up business is calling out for reviewers. It's 8 days out and I'm still happy to accept sign up to the blog book tour and reviewers. If you're interested in being the first to read and review this new sci-fi thriller, you can sign up via Goodreads Group Shut Up & Read. Link below:

I'm so excited about this release. It's my best book yet. I hope you check it out and enjoy it.