Ellie’s Insights

Ellie’s Insights: Melissa Morgan.

Melissa Morgan is an Indie Author from London. She has published 2 books so far; ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘Forced To Forget’ both of which are available on Amazon! You can also follow her on Instagram @Melissawritesthings

As her day job, she currently works as a diver for the Ocean Conservation Trust as well as offering her diving services to the film industry. She started writing stories when she was seven years old and although she considers them ‘terrible’ it gave her a passion for creating stories.

She currently writes romance with a magical realist twist.

When did you start writing?

When I was a child! I remember holding story times in primary school and telling my class stories about horses and vampires (very different subject matters!) but when I moved to secondary school I had a really hard time settling in so kept my writing quiet and to myself. It has always been my escape.

Tell us about your writing style.

I like writing in third person because then I can switch to multi POV. I feel it gives me ways to depict things more clearly and also let the reader pick up on something the character may not. Having said that, I am working on a first person novel…we will see if it ever becomes good enough to see the light of day!

What is your biggest writing quirk?

Oooooooo…I don’t know if I have a writing quirk. Does staying awake until 4 a.m. writing when I should have gone to bed hours ago count as a quirk? Hahah. Or occasionally referring to my characters as real people? I’ve done that way too many times.

What made you self-publish over traditional publishing?

In the case of ‘Forget Me Not’ it was because I was actually getting quite far in the ‘traditional publishing trenches’. I had a couple of agents interested in my novel – one who I was talking to for over six months – however, the feedback I got was that magical realism within romance wasn’t an easy-to-sell genre, but also that a female protagonist who couldn’t have children wasn’t a romance heroine – that last part angered me. But the agents were also giving me such wonderful feedback and asking to see other work of mine that I thought ‘I must have something here. They would just ignore me if I didn’t’. So I took it away and began to work on it myself. I believed in Lizzie. I felt she deserved her happy ending just as much as any other love interest. I felt it was important that not every love story ends with a baby because it just isn’t the case for a lot of people. When I really looked into self-publishing I became so excited. I loved that I got to make all the decisions. The cover, the marketing, the PR ideas…even down to being able to include trigger warnings and giving my first two months sales to charity. I loved that I had so much control.

What do you think are the pros and cons of self-publishing?

Pros – you are in charge. Like I’ve said above I love that I am in charge of my book and what I do with it. Cons – as I have moaned to you, Ellie, so many times, I hate marketing. You are literally such an inspiration as you are so good at it. You are such a hero to me and I will forever be in awe of you, but I hate that side of things. I can barely market my own book to my family, “Yeah, you can read it…if you want though. Don’t feel you have to or anything.” Let alone trying to sell it to people I don’t know!! I do not enjoy self-promoting at all but with self-publishing you have to do it. If you’re an indie author you just have to be your own marketing team and I find that so difficult.

What platform do you use to self-publish?

KDP because I find It so easy to use and I heard a lot of good things about it.

What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you started your writing journey?

That self-doubt is so common. It will always be there but every author feels the same way. You’ll always be feeling slightly like an imposter but that’s okay. It pushes you to write better. Oh, and don’t shy away from writing the sex scenes. Yeah, your family and friends might read them but just pretend they never will and you will be grand! Haha!

Who is your favourite Indie Author and why?

Other than your lovely self of course!! Samantha Young. Her work is a mix of traditionally published and self published works. She is who got me falling fully head over heels in love with the romance genre.  Honestly, her books are so good I have a whole Samantha Young shelf. She writes complicated heroines, swoon-worthy heroes and I have never disliked any of her books. Her stories are always filled to the brim with character and personality. She’s also started writing paranormal romance now and I love that she has had the confidence to straddle two different genres. She inspires me so much. When I went to Edinburgh a couple of years ago, my friends and I walked to all the locations where her On Dublin Street series were set. She has created characters that feel so real that I literally wanted to walk the streets they had fictionally walked upon. I can only aspire to create worlds like that.

Also in 2020, I discovered indie authors (who also sometimes traditionally publish too) Talia Hibbert and Olivia Dade. They have also flown up my list to being two of my most owned authors so have to give them a shout out as well!

Ellie’s Insights: Ashley Santoro – Graphic Designer

Ashley Santoro is a Graphic Designer from Toronto and is the talent behind the fabulous cover of Love & London. You can find her on Instagram @imashleysantoro or on her website http://www.ashleysantoro.com.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Ashley Santoro, a Canadian Graphic Designer. Originally, I was born a very tiny preemie at 27 weeks, in Toronto, and grew up in the Niagara area. Somehow I grew up to be quite tall, at 5’10”.
I spend most of my spare time hanging out with doggos, listening to music, reading non-fiction and spending countless hours watching documentaries.

Tell us a little about your design background/experience designing book covers.

I first discovered I liked designing books at my in-house Design job at a print shop in my early 20’s.
I started reaching out to Art Directors at publishing houses and I caught the eye of James Patterson’s children’s team; Jimmy Books and got to create a title for the series “The Candies”. After seeing the book printed, in physical form, I was hooked. I then got to work on a Harlequin Cozy Mystery series, which really set the tone of my career so far. I now work on title design, full covers and internal formatting and design for print and ebooks.

What is your speciality

My specialties are both lettering and illustration. I do believe my strength lies in lettering, but I’m adaptable in illustration style, specifically full colour or line work.

What elements make up the perfect brief from an author?

The perfect brief has a rough story outline or summary, any key totems to the story that are important, physical character descriptions (if any) and design inspiration, whether that might be covers you like, or even a pattern or colour you think fit your story.

How long does it take you on average to design a cover?

I typically schedule about a month for a cover project, although they tend to be 1-2 (ish) weeks from the initial proof I send. The biggest factor in delaying a cover project is having the final page count from the author, to determine the spine width for print.

At what stage should an author approach you for design services?

In my experience I have found the best time is when you’re almost done finalizing/editing your manuscript. Like I said above, I will need the final page count to finalize the print files. But I’m always happy to start a cover project before you’re done with the manuscript!

What is one piece of advice you would give an author who is looking for a graphic designer?

I think it’s best to have an idea of what you’d like your book to look like.
Even if it’s a very rough idea, or 1 thing you’d like to include. I’d also suggest being open to new ideas, I love taking author’s idea’s and running with them. Sometimes the end result is something you never expected!

What is your favourite part of the design process/ what do you enjoy most about designing?

My favourite part about the design process is sketching/designing rough ideas! Once I start, I don’t stop. My favourite part about designing is seeing everything come together, the reason I love book design is because I get to hold my work in my hands.

Our world is so digital, I think it grounds me knowing my work revolves around a tangible piece of work. I of course love e-books too, but print has always held a special place in my heart.

About The Author

Ellie White was born and raised in Sunderland and is a proud Mackem!

She lives in Houghton-Le-Spring with her husband and two young children. She is a lover of chocolate, rom-coms, musicals and anything Disney.

Her debut Rom-Com, Love & London, published in ebook, paperback and Kindle Unlimited on the 2nd April 2021.