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 RNC Articles (on InD'tale.com) by Jimmy Thomas
TOPICS
BEWARE! The Subtlety of Deception
The Best Way To Learn
Jimmy's Healthy Holiday Baking Tips
Headless Covers
The Importance of Color On Covers
Selecting The Final Cover Image
Cover Design 3 Primary Focus Points
Misconceptions On The Rights Of Using Images
Using Facebook and Social Media To Your Benefit
Presenting Yourself to the Public - Your Customers
To Swag Or Not To Swag
Who's Directing My Novel Sales?
A World Without Professionals

 RNC Articles (on RomanceNovelCenter.com) by Jimmy Thomas
TOPICS
Professional Cover Art vs. Your Attempt To Make A Cover
Copying / Saving Images To Your Blog and Other Pages
Branding and How To Use Your Name
Giving Away Your Novels For Free
What People Say About RNC Images


Professional Cover Art vs. Your Attempt To Make A Cover:
 
Professionally speaking here everyone... Why are so many authors "attempting" to make their own covers when there are many, many great, professional cover artists out there who only charge $50-$100 per cover, and they clearly list these prices on their RNC profiles, which is EXACTLY why RomanceNovelCenter.com was created. It's also the reason why RNC Pre-Made Covers are made available on RomanceNovelCovers.com for only $45, as product packaging and presentation is key!

Writing is for authors. Cover art is for cover artists. Why do you think I don't make my own RNC Pre-Made Covers, but instead I let professional cover artists make them? I'm not a cover artist so I'm not going to try it because it's cool or fun to play around with it. Could I try and make pretty ok covers? Yes, but because they would only be "ok", I would not and will not do it. The quality level of things you make, write, create or produce, all determine your reputation to all those viewing.

Just like when you read a bad novel, the author of that novel wanted to skim on expenses and not get it edited by a professional editor. They figured they'd save money and just re-read it a few more times themselves, or have their sister, mother, best friend, or another author read it for their opinion, which to avoid hurting a loved-ones feelings, they will all usually say it is incredible and they wouldn't change a thing if they were you. Even if they were to be critically honest with you, they are not educated, experience, professional editors, so they wouldn't even know what to critique in your writing.

The romance novel industry is a structured "family" and we need each other to evolve, grow and succeed in what we each do in this business. Editors, cover artists and reviewers need authors and publishers. Authors and publishers need editors, cover artists and reviewers. Everyone needs web designers and web designers need all of us. Models and photographers need publishers, authors and cover artists, and publishers, authors and cover artists need models and photographers to provide them with great images.

Why would anyone want to take away from another in their family and "attempt" what professionals do? Should we represent ourselves in all court cases because we know a little law? Should we diagnose ourselves with every health issue because we know a few home remedies? Should we attempt to fix our own cars? Make our own clothes? Repair our own TV's?

Sure you can try, but what will the quality be? Would you paint your car with a can of spray paint, or would you take it to a professional? Would you adjust your own wedding dress or tuxedo, or would you have a professional tailor do it? Would you have a family member or friend photograph your wedding, or would you have a professional photographer do it?

Those are all very important and expensive things in your life, so you want high-end quality for them right? So what does that say about how you see your own writing talents to not have a professional create your cover for it? Your product packaging! Your presentation to the world of your writing skills and ability and talent!

The same way you think of an author of a bad novel/story you read, and now you won't want to read another from that author again, what do you think viewers/readers think of unprofessional cover art from authors who are not professional cover artists, but decided to skim and make their own cover(s) anyway? I'll tell you what they think, they think that you don't think too highly of your own work, otherwise you'd find a way to come up with $50-$100 to get yourself a gorgeous and professionally-made cover. They'll think you threw your story together like you threw your cover together. Is that how you want readers to see you as an author?

I don't care what your friends say about your attempt at cover art, as friends don't want to hurt your feelings. Yes I'm your friend too, but I'm also a say-it-like-it-is kind of guy. I don't sugarcoat, I give my honest, professional, constructive critique for you to benefit from, to better yourself or your product, and for you to profit more from.

You can't tell me that in the months it takes you to write, edit and format an entire novel, that you can't save up $50-$100. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that.

Not only does hiring a professional cover artist give you an amazing cover for your novel FOREVER, which will definitely make you WAY more money in sales over something you threw together, but that cover artist will also be giving you free advertisement by posting your cover on their website, their Facebook page, their RNC profile, their blog, etc. And if I'm on the cover and it is made by a professional cover artist and beautiful, sexy, hot, etc., I will also be advertising it to my Facebook page, my fan site page, my RNC profile, etc. So now look what you get for $50-$100.

Again, this was not meant to insult any authors who have made their own covers while not being a professional cover artist, it was meant to enlighten, inform, encourage and help all of you to see the big difference between attempting, and professional cover art, and how others see unprofessional-looking covers, but who almost never speak their mind to not hurt your feelings. I'm here to help you, not float your boat ;)

Again, this is why I created RomanceNovelCenter.com, for authors to easily browse through many, many cover artist profiles, see their work and how much they charge. Yes, many great cover artists are more than $100, but many are also $50-$100. It is so easy to look at profiles, see their work, see their rates, and decide if they are right for what you need/want.

It doesn't take big income to spend $45 on an RNC Pre-Made Cover, or $50-$100 on custom cover for a novel you put sweat and tears (time and stress) into. Theses indie authors who say they can't afford even $50-$100 are alive, so they are buying food, food I'm sure that wasn't needed to be bought all the time; extra snacks, soda, cigarettes, etc., even that ONE night of going out to eat for two will run $50. So don't go out to eat once and there's your cover. Unless going out to eat once is more important than the book you wrote???

I am constantly hearing from indie authors that they aren't rich, that they don't make millions, that they aren't high-rollers, etc. I'm sorry but having $45, $50-$100 does not identify you as rich or a high-roller. It's all a matter of priority and what things in your life are more important to you. Having an amazing, quality cover is what makes you more money from more sales. These indie authors aren't making much with their novels, because people aren't clicking on their covers to read the blurbs because they are not intrigued by the covers to click on them due to their lack of quality.

Put yourself in the buyer's mind. Do you buy anything that looks half-ass, generic, like a child made it and unprofessional looking, or do you skip over those and only look at the quality-looking items, especially since they are around the same price?

The novel COVER is what gets viewers/readers/buyers to click on the novels to read the blurbs. If you had a shelf full of blank white covers with just a novel title and author name on them, and a few with great cover art on them, are you going to pick up every blank white covered novel to read all the blurbs? No, you will only pick up the novels that grabbed your attention due to the quality it presented to you.

So authors can say all they want that they can't afford $50-$100, which is saying that it is IMPOSSIBLE to save that up over the many months they wrote, edited and formatted that novel, but we all know that you can, it is just a matter of choice, self-control, discipline and your own opinion of your level of work/writing, to give your story a quality cover. The way I see it, and how most see it, the quality of your cover matches the quality of your story. Would Nora Roberts make her own covers? No, but not because she can afford cover artists, but because she wants quality packaging for her quality work, plain and simple.

I know indie authors who are living paycheck by paycheck each week, have children and bills, yet they find a way to save up to either buy an RNC Pre-Made Cover, hire a cover artist, or even order a custom shoot from me. The difference is that they made it a priority, they WANTED a great quality cover for their novel they worked so hard on, they know that it will greatly increase their sales, which THEN they can easily afford a cover artist to make all their covers.

Jimmy Thomas - RNC

Copying / Saving Images To Your Blog and Other Pages:
 
"It's ok, I got the image from Google Images, so it's free to use." Wrong! Images on Google Images are not free to use If you do a Google search on "Jimmy Thomas", all or most of my images on my modeling website will show up. That does not mean they are free to use. Google is merely a window to view what you are looking for, not a "get things for free window".

EVERY image you see online was shot by someone. That someone owns the rights to that image, whether they are a professional photographer or not. So yes, if you shoot even a candid photo of me, YOU own the rights to that photo, but that doesn't give you the rights to do anything with it publicly or commercially. You need MY written permission to post/show it publicly, online or offline, or to use it commercially (to make a profit from). This is what a "Model Release" is for.

Before a photographer shoots a model, they both sign the photographer provided "Model Release", which releases rights to the photographer from the model, which are specified in the release. Many photographers scam models by putting in their "Model Release" that they, the model, give the photographer the rights to do whatever they want with the images shot of you; sell, publish, alter, manipulate, use your name or a fictitious name with them, use with other images, artwork or materials, etc., without your prior approval of each use. And MOST models (99% of the) think "Well he's not going to do anything with our images, he's been nice to me in the week we've been emailing each other, and he said he's only going to use them on his online portfolio." Well if that were so, then why doesn't he alter his "Model Release to state that? I'll tell you why, because it's not true. He's going to upload them to stock image websites, submit them to various magazines, image brokers, cell phone and instant messenger companies for background skins, etc., and make a profit from those images and never tell you about it, and he doesn't have to, as you signed his "Model Release" that said he can do all that.

Keep in mind, what I stated that most photographers put in their "Model Release" is ALL they put in their "Model Release". Did you see me write anything at all about you, the model, having ANY RIGHTS at all to even use the images on your website or modeling portfolios? Nope! So legally, you can't. You can't post them on your website, your Facebook page, your business cards, your comp/zed card, etc., because he never gave you permission to (refer back to my initial statement: "EVERY image you see was taken by someone. That someone owns the rights to that image."). A good-standing photographer will state only, and exactly, how the images will be used and that you both have the rights to use them non-commercially to advertise yourself as a model and photographer.

So, ANY and EVERY image you find online, is copyrighted by the photographer, and ONLY the people they gave written permission to, can use that image publicly or commercially. This is why on stock image websites you are not buying an "image, you are buying a "license to use" an image, and only in the way the license describes you are allowed to use it, not any way you want just because you paid some money for it.

Lets change it around. Lets say you accidentally posted an image of yourself revealing more than you want people to see, but before you realized it, it was up for a few hours and others saved it. Now if your thought of any image online is free to use, or because you are not making money from it it is ok, where somehow you feel you have the right to make the decision what is ok and what is not for everyone, lets say you get notified by a friend that your revealing photo is on Match.com as a profile image. What? Big deal, they aren't making any money from it. Or how about you find out is it used on a pro-animal testing website as a supporter's profile image? What? Big deal, they aren't making any money from it. Or how about you find it on a gay/lesbian website when you are not gay/lesbian, in a gallery of gay/lesbian people? What? Big deal, they aren't making any money from it.

You can't be the one to determine what is ok for everyone. Just because you feel that posting an image of a hot guy on your blog as eye-candy is ok. Maybe his wife doesn't think it is ok. Maybe the male model doesn't think it is because he found God and feels any visual stimulation of the body is a sin and he has been trying for years to get all his images removed from the internet. So you can't decide what is ok and what is not when it comes to usage of images that are not yours.

As for who to contact to get permission to use images, as I stated above, a proper "Model Release" will give both the model and photographer permission to use the image(s) to advertise themselves as a model and as a photographer. So posting an image of a hot guy on your romance novel blog, would fall under the model advertising himself as a model. So as long as the model has written permission to use the image(s) to advertise himself as a model, then he can give you permission to post it on your blog (if you know who the model is to contact him). So if the photographer ever contacts you and says that he didn't give you rights to use his copyrighted image, you can say the the model did.

Yes, having the model send you a copy of the "Model Release" as proof that he has permission, as well as saving his email saying he also gives you permission is best, but him emailing you saying he gives you permission is all you would need in your defense if the photographer says that the model doesn't have those rights, because he signed the crappy photographer's "Model Release" instead. If you were to use the image on a novel cover though, or any commercial use, I would DEFINITELY get a copy of the "Model Release" if you are merely getting it from a random model view email.

I know there are various models out there that want to be on novel covers so they contact authors and tell them that they can use their images for free on their covers if they want, and authors take their images and do so. This is SO BAD! In most cases, the images are not even full size, because the model doesn't have the full size images because the photographer never gave them to him since he doesn't need them for online posting to advertise himself as a model. And 99% of the time, that model does not have rights to publish any of their images, since the release they signed doesn't allow them to.

I started modeling in 1998. From that point I always shot with female models since it was close to impossible to find a good/great photographer would shoot a guy for free, unless it was a gay, male photographer wanting to shoot the male model naked. So I would tell photographers I wanted to shoot with that I have a hot female model who wants to shoot with me for sexy couples images, and then we can do some solos images as well. I showed them the hot girls and they would all say "Heck ya!" I would then contact the hot female models I'd want to shoot with and say the same thing to them, about a great photographer who wants to shoot us together for sexy couples images and solo, and they would all say "Heck ya!" This is how I have never paid for a single photo shoot and how I started getting all of my romantic, sensual, sexy and erotica images years before I got into the romance novel industry.

So once I did get into the romance novel industry, I would inform authors of who I was, showed them my images on my website, and asked about booking me for a shoot to be on their covers. They all said the same thing, that they don't have any say in who goes on their covers, the publishers do. So I contacted the publishers, where they all told me the same thing, that they don't get images from models directly, they use their own photographers and get models from modeling agencies, or they buy stock images from stock image websites for their cover photos. Well that certainly wasn't going to stop me. I didn't live in New York where these bigger publisher were, who could afford to pay photographers and agency-booked models to try to get with those agencies in hopes to maybe get booked one day, but I knew I had a wealth of romance novel looking images I've shot over the years, so I figured why not make my own stock image website with all my images.

Of course to do this I would need "written permission" of my female co-models and each photographer who were involved in each shoot I wanted to use the images from. So I contacted them all, told them what I was wanting to do, they all knew the kind of guy I was/am; business savvy, makes things happen, etc., so all those I asked agreed. I wrote up my own RNC contract, to be in-addition to the "Model Release" we each signed, mailed it to each of them to sign and send back, which they all did. THAT gave me permission to sell and publish all those images via www.RomanceNovelCover.com 

Once I got my stock image website going, I knew I needed much more content, many more genres to cover all aspects of the romance novel industry (or as many as possible), so I found a photographer who loved my idea and we started shooting everything you see on RNC now, with him and all my co-model signing my RNC contract giving me permission to sell and publish any and all our images via www.RomanceNovelCover.com 

THAT is the legal way of being able to have my images on your covers, websites, blogs, swag, etc. So when you are contacted by a model and they offer you their images to use, you now know what to ask for. You also now know that just because you find an image online, that does not mean it is free to use, post, show, email, etc., even if your friends are doing it. Don't assume that just because they are, they must have somehow found images that are free to use without any stipulations.

Yes, my images are all over Facebook pages and blogs. Those authors have either bought my image(s) from www.RomanceNovelCover.com so they are then legally able to post them on their websites, Facebook page, blog, romance novels, etc., or they may have saved it from someone else's Facebook page or website and just figured they could use it too. Legally and ethically they should ask me permission, as I almost always allow it. However, if they did purchase the image, I would prefer they did not post the full size image they bought, but to shrink it down first so that others can't save it and use it themselves commercially on a cover or such. I am also more than willing to put my logo on an image you purchased, which some authors regularly send me to do just that. Not my watermark across the entire image, but a small version of my watermark logo in one of the corners of the image(s).

Jimmy Thomas - RNC

Branding and How To Use Your Name:
 
As a model, author, cover artist, editor and reviewer (and yes many others, but I'll list these for example), your name is part of your brand, it affiliates your brand with you for people to know, recognize and then have the thought in their head of what and who you are, your professionalism, level of quality, your type of business, your style, attitude, dedication, demeanor... everything about you and what you offer to the consumer and public is.

So, do NOT introduce yourself by your real first name when meeting someone in this biz, or even a random stranger who could be a consumer to you. Your first name is for family, best friends, dates, babysitters and phone reps. ALWAYS introduce yourself and sign your name in correspondences as your FULL PEN NAME or cover artist name, editor name, reviewer name... Your BUSINESS name. Whether your pen name is your real name or not, always use your full pen/business name. Try and find ONE email or message where I've signed my email as "Jimmy". You won't find one anywhere! My name is "Jimmy Thomas"... period!

Do you know who Steven is? You know, Steven, remember, Steven? No? Hmmmm, I wonder why. Let me try again... Do you know Steven King? Ahhhhh, did a light bulb go off above your head? ;) How about this one... Do you know Eleanor? You know, that author we met, Eleanor? No? Ok, let me try again the way it should be... Do you know Nora Roberts? Ahhhhh, big difference huh? Do you think Nora Roberts would introduce herself to you at a romance novel event as her real name Eleanor or even Eleanor Robertson, or even Nora? No, ONLY Nora Roberts, as that is who she is to you, and that is all that matters to you to her.

My friends introduce me to their friends as "Jimmy Thomas" as they are so used to hearing me say my whole name, as well as reading it in my emails, so to them my first and last name is one name, as it is part of my brand. My name announces my brand. When you hear or read my name, you instantly think of everything I am, everything I do, everything I bring to the table, my personality, etc. So when someone says "How about Jimmy Thomas?", everything you know about me comes to mind. Those things quickly come to mind because I have put them out there repeatedly and consistently, creating a brand for myself.

So who you are, what you do, the way you do it, and the quality you produce, is your brand. You build that by repetition, networking and exposure of "you" as much as possible. Yes that is a lot of work, but hard work is what pays off ;) So branding in short, is giving yourself an identity in thought, not a word or a logo or a symbol, as the name, logo and symbol are only identifiers TO your brand, but without a brand they are just random names, random logos, random symbols on a page of millions of others, not used by anyone yet ;)

As for authors choosing whether to create a pen name or just use their real name, that all depends on what they write and if they want everyone, including all of their family, their children, friends, and children of family and friends to know what you write about (Erotica, BDSM, etc.). If not, use a pen name. Or if in the future you MIGHT write about stories you may not want everyone to know about, use a pen name. Or, if you write many genres and don't want readers/fans from one genre (ex. Young Adult), to know that you, as the same author, also write other genres (Erotica, BDSM, etc.), then you may want multiple pen names, one for each genre, or one for the more "Adult" genres and one for everything else.

Jimmy Thomas - RNC


Giving Away Your Novels for free:
 
There will ALWAYS be readers, so the readers getting your book for free now is the same as the past 6 months to a year of you not even having your book posted/available. Only now, you'll get your name out there by all these readers reading your book(s) and spreading the word about it (as long as they are good ;)). Authors shouldn't think that they have to scrape every cent they can from every reader, every second of everyday, as they lose exposure that way. Building your fan- base is more important, and the way to get yourself known.

In the beginning of having my stock image website I had sales all the time for 50% off images. Did I lose 50% of those image sales? Many would say yes, but heck no! Because my buyers would buy 10-100 images per each purchase instead of 1 or 2 like they usually would. So that got me on more book covers, more exposure and more known ;)

The opening day of a store or any business, should you expect to BANK on that opening day and everyday thereafter? Or do you know and accept that it will take time for people to know about your store or business and slowly start to go to it as long as you have great products? Authors should not think that they are losing money from all those people downloading their book for free, because many of those readers wouldn't have bought their book if it had a price on it if they don't know you or your work, but if it is free they will read it, and if they like it, that is now free advertisement for you. Expecting/demanding full price from every single person, 24/7, is not going to get you known for some time.

Jimmy Thomas - RNC

What People Say About RNC Images:
 
"I've been trying to figure out what sets Jimmy Thomas apart from the others and I've decided it's the emotion he brings to his photos. Yes, he's wildly good-looking but there's more going on than a pretty face: you can see what he's thinking and feeling and, for me, that's a very important distinction."
- Barbara Bretton

"There are lots of pretty faces out there, posing in supposedly romantic ways. But there's nothing romantic about their shots because they're so obviously fakes. They're concerned about looking great for the camera, not about being romantic. This is why Jimmy excels and why I'll keep going back for more of his photos for my cover designs."
- Delle Jacobs

"Having been a working model (I made a good living) for the better half of a decade, I would have given my right arm to have worked with a male model like Jimmy. He has the heart and soul and it shows in all his images. Not so with a good many male models, past or present. Now I work on the other side of the lens and I can appreciate what he does even more. There is so much blood, sweat and tears that he puts into all his images - all he doesn't do is physically shoot the image(s)! Oh, but wait! He may figure out how to do that before all is said and done! You have to have the passion, and Jimmy has the passion 110%."
- Rae McCartney

"While they say Men are visual creatures, women respond to key visuals, emotion visuals, eyes, hands etc. and
Jimmy Thomas deserves the award thus far for creating those moments that draw us women in, very few artists or photographers can get these moments that make our bodies respond, but Jimmy has figured this out and virtually every cover he is on, I have yet not to respond to in some way, my body cheats me and reacts every time :-)"
- Jane White Pillatzke

"The cover model CAN absolutely help sell a book. The reality is that
Jimmy has presence that grabs. As a cover designer, I look through a lot of really fine looking men to find the right one, and there are quite a few out there. But they simply don't have Jimmy's appeal. His images are bold and he makes them believable. Even before you open the book, if it's designed correctly (like this one) you are already getting sucked into the story. I think the point is that Jimmy sells himself through confidence and boldness and that, in turn, helps to sell the book."
- Linda Boulanger

"After looking at Stock photo sites, I always come back to
Jimmy. The emotion, the care and professional look of his shots are hard to beat."
- Karyn Gerrard

"I've seen so many stock images and book covers and none of them have the same passion and emotion that
JT's images do."
- Chris Coxiereads

"In my opinion
Jimmy Thomas is the BEST period!! As an avid reader the first thing that grabs my attention is the cover, so along with a good cover model you must have a good cover artist. But in only my opinion if the cover model isn't good then well, it is very difficult for the cover artist because what the cover model brings forth is the expression & essence of the story / character and again there is no better than Jimmy Thomas he has a natural born gift.... another thing I love is his ability of change, he is a chameleon, every cover is different and he isn't stuck to one or two genres, he can do anything & everything! Not often can you find that in a cover model. Jimmy as a man is an incredibly smart businessman, truly to know him is to love him, just ask anyone whom has had the pleasure of meeting him! ;) An author who wants to sell books will have Jimmy Thomas on the cover."
- Shannon Reads

"Anything with
Jimmy Thomas sells better. Why, just look at the cover!!!"
- Laurie Peterson

"The sensuality of the cover model is what sells the book along with everything else that goes along with it (the blurb, the cover art and the characters as well) plus the fact that whenever you have a cover with
Jimmy Thomas on it..., it of course is a must read. The man oozes sexual desire that entices a reader to pick it up and just sit back and imagine.
"
- Jamallah Bergman

"I enjoyed the process of working with a cover artist to create my cover. When I described the hero to the cover artist, she recommended
Jimmy Thomas and we looked thru his site together (on the phone). What fun that was! I was so enthralled with Jimmy's images that I chose him for the 2nd book, too."
- Sheri WhiteFeather

"Hi
Jimmy, I really appreciate the professional response and manner you have with authors and models. This is one major draw I find in your photos. When I see you in hold with a model, I never feel as though the shot is merely posed. I see the emotion. A genuine care and concern for the model comes through the pose. It might be good acting on both of your parts, but you take the time to make sure it is there. That's important, plus (who are we kidding) it sells books. :) Still, thank you for being very professional."
- Carol Spradling

 

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