the self-publishing process – create a full wrap book cover in Canva

the self-publishing process – create a full wrap book cover in Canva

For several weeks, I took a break from querying and focused on the self-publishing idea. I purchased a blueprint on how to have a sucessful self-publishing launch (which includes setting up book reviews first and foremost, yikes). Not for the faint of heart… but it can be fun and liberating! I purchased the blueprint from Cara Stein, so I’ll keep you updated on results. No, I don’t get paid for resources mentioned here, it’s just personal experience.

I enjoy working in Canva, so I decided to mock up a cover. I purchased an image through Adobe stock, brought the image in and worked on it. Or you can hire out, of course. I’ve worked in marketing (which isn’t the same as design, I know), but I have a good feel for design, so I gave it a try. I’m happy with the end product. Here is the full wrap:


Today’s resource is  Vania Margene Rheault, who provides step by step instructions on how to create a full wrap book cover in Canva. 

After creating the cover, I researched KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and brought my manuscript into Vellum, which is available for Mac only.

If you don’t own a Mac, I hear a software program, Atticus, is available for all computers. But for the sake of this post, I will talk about Vellum.

I brought in my manuscript and immediately loved it. It was so cool to see the words in Kindle format. I started at the beginning of the manuscript and tweaked formatting so it looks good on a Kindle, and it’s easy. They provide the visuals for you, there isn’t any second guessing. If you have a Mac and want to try it out, it’s free until you generate files. Formats are available within Vellum for Kindle, Apple books, Kobo, Google Play, and Nook, but, like I said, it all works on a Mac.

 If you’re interested in creating a full wrap book cover for both print and ebooks, check out today’s resource below!

I love this author’s website, the look and feel, the layout, and step by step directions. She goes into the kind of detail we need in her full wrap instructions post, to ensure dimensions and formatting are correct.

If you’re interested in creating a cover, check out the post and give it a go. You can start with the free version of Canva. I pay $12.95 monthly for Canva Pro, and this paid version includes a background remover, which I find worth the price.

The main steps for creating a cover include:

1. Have a formatted manuscript

2. Go to kdp to calculate book features and dimensions to create the template

3. Download the template onto your computer

4. Upload the template into Canva

5. Follow Vania’s step by step instructions in Canva

These are the main steps, don’t let it intimidate you. When you click on the link to Vania’s website, her instructions are clear and simple.

Happy creating!


query letter revisions- overcoming insecurities

query letter revisions- overcoming insecurities

I finished my debut novel this past summer, and now I’m looking for an agent. Using QueryTracker, I’ve sent out a total of ten query letters to date, and I’ve majorly revised the letter four times since beginning the process a couple of months ago. Unless I have another specific spark of inspiration, or an agent gives me feedback on what I can change for better success, I’ve decided this is my best, final version.

Revising the query letter as we continue to query agents is part of the process. I decided I’m done revising now, however, because I’ve done the best I can to relay the story, and whatever doubts I have in finding an agent come from my protagonist. She’s a stay at home wife and mother in a midlife crisis, and I’ve attended enough writing conferences to know this is a character the publishing world (in general) thinks it has seen enough of… but I don’t think the publishing world has given her enough credit for the amount of readers who can relate with her… instead, the publishing world tells us to write unique protagonists with fresh twists.

I’m all for something fresh! But there’s something to be said about a protagonist finding her way out of the everyday rubble into everyday twists of happiness. My protagonist finds her fresh life by doing serious redesign work on herself… and leaves her marriage for a younger man but circles back to her ex-husband to rebuild their relationship, as the new people they’ve become. Not the most popular story for those who have divorced, I know. But Livy, the protagonist, has her own path, and for her that path leads her to go forward with her ex-husband.

Interesting how the essence of my novel’s storyline made its way into the process of sending out query letters. What I mean is, Livy, the protagonist, fights through insecurities to become her best version. Well, I’m finding that while I reach out to agents with this query letter, I’m fighting through insecurities of my own, to revise my letter and put my work out there.

Obviously, Livy is a character worth my time, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent years finishing her story. So I shouldn’t discount that, and I’m not. I’ll give it my best shot, to find an agent with this novel, and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll self publish and promote it while writing my second novel.  

One look at this website and you’ll see this guy knows the business. Take some time to review his steps for writing a query letter, along with his invaluable examples to keep us on track! Click here then scroll down.

(There’s also fabulous advice on query letter construction in a separate post, where Kelley Lindberg gives us pointers on the Hook, Book, and Cook strategy.)

Now that we’ve read Nathan Bransford’s info and implemented it as best we can, if we continue to receive rejection letters, which is usually the norm, keep reading to get good advice on keeping ourselves strong and resilient while querying!

Click through to this author’s blog for details under each tip given below.

These are her main bits of advice on taking care of our mental healt while querying:

1. prepare your heart for rejections

2. take mental health breaks

3. analyze your manuscript with a critical eye

4. celebrate wins, no matter how small

5. explore all the available options

6. decide when it’s time to shelve your manuscript

7. don’t give up

Click here to read her good advice for each tip.

And remember – we do this because we love it, because we need to!

query letter workshop

query letter workshop

In prep for writing my query letter, I found a workshop offered through RMFW here in Colorado. Perfect timing! A good in-person brush up is exactly what I needed and it didn’t disappoint.

The workshop speaker Kelley Lindberg,  volunteers on the RMFW board and oversees the organization’s blog. She’s been published a lot, both in fiction and non-fiction, and for the workshop, she focused on query letter writing for fiction.

As painful as query letter writing can be, we just have to dig in and re-work it until we’re happy with our letters. As part of the workshop, we were asked to read our letters aloud for a group critique. I volunteered to go first. Might as well get the pain over with! Ha.

Surprisingly, I received positive feedback and helpful tips to make it better… encouragement I was hoping for but definitely not counting on. Let’s dig into Kelley’s material on query letter writing.

A query letter must convice the publisher/agent of two (and only two) things:

1. This is a killer story

2. You’re the best writer for the job.

After the salutation, the three main components of the letter are hook, book, and cook. 

Let’s take a look at these components now:

First of all, with the salutation, give your reason for querying them and any connection to them. So, basically you are personalizing it appropriately.

First Paragraph (The Hook)

Plunge the editor into the topic/story.  Fiction: introduce the main character, a pivotal moment, and what’s at stake. Highlight a scene: jump immediately into the heart or main conflict of your story. Show the voice it was written in.

Paragraph Two (The Book)

Introduce the protagonist’s world, the broader story arc, their goals and their obstacles. Briefly describe the overall story. Don’t be vague! Include title, word count, and genre. Why is your story interesting and different from similar stories? If appropriate, use key facts or figures to show you’ve done you’re research. Make this paragraph exciting and interesting.

Paragraph Three (The Cook)

Who are you, do you have any publications, and what makes you an expert? Why is your story unique? Compare to recently published comparable titles (comps). Describe any relevant experience. Mention any previously published writing, writing awards, and writing organizations. If you are only selling specific rights, like reprint rights, say so. If this story has appeared online IN ANY FORM or in another publication, say so. OK to say: “This is the first book in a planned series,” or “This is a standalone book but has the potential to be a series.”

End with a polite, “Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Your Name.”

Include your phone, email, and social media handles.

query letter

query letter

When I was querying agents for my debut novel the first time, I couldn’t rid myself of feeling the novel’s ending sucked. So, I re-worked it, until getting it right, and now I’m truly ready to query agents.

Since this website is a space for the underlying turbulence around relationships, career and writing, it’s only fitting I talk about the turbulence I’m experiencing with writing this query letter, before giving you a resource below on how to do it well.

It’s amazing, the dread I’m feeling, as I go back to the drawing table and create both my query letter and synopsis for Miserably Happy. I’ve been to enough writing workshops to know I have my work cut out for me, grabbing an agent’s attention with a stay at home mom protagonist on a new career mission! Off the bat she doesn’t sound so “special.”

Yet, this protagonist’s appeal is just that— she is every woman who has ever experienced the battle between motherhood and career and all the dissatisfying and satisfying elements in both. And she has the audacity to listen to herself and leave her marriage (wink), only to experience further disillusionment. Finding her way back to center is a challenge most people can relate to.

As much as I’ve dreaded the thought of starting over on my querying journey, it’s already become easier, after taking the initial step of pulling up QueryTracker again. Sometimes you just have to take action and the dread begins to lessen. Researching the internet for this excellent resource below helped as well. I guess my underlying fear is rejection, like in most things, but if we don’t try, we never have a shot at breaking through to our higher dimensions.

For me, the easiest way to tackle the querying process was reading through the post I’m referencing here, then going back through it and breaking down the steps.

I will number my personal steps below, but once you read through this author’s post, I recommend doing the same thing— creating your own list of what you want to tackle, in a sequence that works for you. The link to her post is at the end.

Thankfully, the first bit of advice she gives, finishing the manuscript before querying, is something I’ve accomplished. I can leave that off the to-do list, ha!

The post gives us 4 elements of a query letter:

“I recommend your query include these elements, in no particular order (except the closing):

  • The housekeeping: your book’s genre/category, word count, title/subtitle
  • The hook: the description of your story and the most critical query element; 150-300 words is sufficient for most narrative works
  • Bio note: something about yourself, usually 50-100 words
  • Thank you & closing: about a sentence

I consider personalization or customization of the query optional. More on that later.”

Below is my personal “to-do” list:

1. The Housekeeping

Book’s genre/category, word count, title/subtitle

Hopefully my book’s subtitle isn’t a regrettable piece of shit… (important to keep a sense of humor in this process…)

Importantly, the post mentions later that if we mention genre, we should also offer up comps.

2. Research Comps

The author of this post tells us not all agents asks for comparables, but I want to see what I dig up here. It’s good to be educated on the marketplace, and when we’re busy writing, sometimes we’re not reading as much. Click here for the link offered in the post to research comps.

3. Personalize My Letter

After researching who publishes my comps, I’ll dig for possible authentic personalization for the letter.

4. Determine How I Want to Open My Letter

For me, the best way is to start with my story.

5. Work on the Hook!

The author of the post gives several formulas to get us started, so check those out. She also includes the hook used for The DaVinci Code, which is helpful.

6. Write the Bio

Read through the author’s pointers on writing the bio and take it from there.