Episode 76: On Captivating Covers, Image Licensing & Writing Book Blurbs with Natalie Keller Reinert (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 76: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books, then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, Natalie Keller Reinert returns to the show for a special two-part interview series on book production. In this first conversation, we take a deep dive into all things cover design. Next week, we'll discuss interior design best practices. You'll learn ...
Praise for Part One - It's a Master Class!
"A podcast that's ... basically a self-publishing master class, especially for a niche audience. Equestrian romance author Carly Kade and equestrian women's fiction author and book designer Natalie Keller Reinert talk about writing, what to consider for book covers, back covers of paperbacks, and blurbs." - Rhonda Lane
Watch Natalie Keller Reinert's Interview on YouTube
Or listen to the audio only episode.
About Natalie Keller Reinert
Natalie has been riding and working with horses since the age of ten, and has worked in upper-level eventing, dressage, racing, and mounted patrol. She started publishing in 2011 following the launch of a very successful blog, Retired Racehorse.
Since then, she has written and published more than a dozen novels written about the equestrian experience. She has been a semi-finalist twice for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, a literary award for horse racing literature, and was a top finalist with her novel about racehorse retirement, Turning For Home.
Natalie Keller Reinert Interview Excerpt
Carly: We're talking book design in this episode. What are the common traps that authors fall into when they finish their manuscript?
Natalie: The most common trap is to assume that you're done after you've written your first draft. That's a whole other layer of editing and beta readers. When you do feel like you have a book ready for production, I think rushing to production is the biggest issue. You need to spend the time on the finished product. Everything is worth a first, a second, a third, a fourth, and a fifth glance every time.
Knowing your category is another trap. You have to be really, really clear with yourself and with your audience about what category your book belongs in. There are hundreds of categories to sell your books in with all of these sub-genres, even if you're just writing a horse book, there are dozens of sub-genres of horse books.
Do your books match your fellow authors' books?
Do your books match your competitors?
Does your book look similar in design?
You have to be really sure that your category matches your cover design because if you miscategorize your book or you miscover your book you're going to turn off readers right away.
Carly: Talk with us about some book cover best practices.
Natalie: The most basic and most successful equestrian fiction cover is a horse picture and it works. I use it consistently across all my titles. I hardly ever put people in my covers. I use horses. Horse pictures can convey the mood of the book. The covers I use for my Eventing Series look nothing like the cover that I used for Grabbing Mane. They evoke completely different emotions and they say what's in the book.
Natalie: The Eventing Series is a fast-paced high-stakes book series about professional eventing. Grabbing Mane looks a bit like a romance because I really wanted to convey that the horse in the book is taking over this person's life, like a first love would. It's an emotional, "I love my horse" cover. It has nothing to do with competition. It's a horse picture, but the mood is everything.
Natalie: I always keep in mind that I'm writing for horse people. Horse people are very opinionated. I have some specific rules for stock photography that I use.
If I have a person on my cover that person has to be wearing a helmet. When it comes to bits, the horse needs to be in the plainest bit possible. My book cover is not the place to start a discussion about whether a horse should wear a certain bit. I recommend a simple snaffle bit. Avoid offending people. People have very strong opinions about horses. It's not my place on the cover of my books to upset anyone.
If you're writing a book that prominently features horses, there definitely should be a horse on the cover. You're probably leaving money on the table if you don't put a horse on the cover. Again, look at the category you're competing against.
Carly: Talk to us about stock photography and why it's so important to purchase licenses to your photos.
Natalie: The first thing I want to address is free stock photos. We've all seen them. We've seen every single free stock photo of a horse. Don't use one of those because we've seen it in advertisements and other places, It's everywhere.
It costs like $12 to buy an image from https://www.istockphoto.com/. Sign up for their emails and whenever they have a promotion buy some credits and then you have them for when you want a photo.
Make sure the license is creative. Editorial license does not mean you can use it on a cover, but basically the cheap creative license from a stock photography store will cover you for creating books and for using the imagery for advertisements for your books. It won't cover you for making merchandise for your books, so don't put your cover on a canvas bag unless you checked that the license your purchased allows you to do that.
Be aware that you have to license your images. Spend the dollars and get the licensed photo because you don't want to get involved with media rights issues. You want to protect yourself.
Carly: How do you approach your back of book blurbs?
Natalie: Most of mine follow a really basic pattern. You don't want to get too crazy with any type effects. On the back of my books, the description has a heading, three paragraphs, my author photo, and a little bio. That's pretty much the pattern I use for all of mine.
When it comes to writing the blurb, it's usually an edited down version of my book description that I would use for my ebook. Less is more. Don't make a book report. Don't tell me what's going to happen. Tell me why it's interesting. Tell me who's in it, that they are going to face a challenge, and why I should care.
Connect with Natalie Keller Reinert
Books by Natalie Keller Reinert
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Hear more from Natalie Keller Reinert
In this episode with Natalie Keller Reinert. You'll learn ...
New Equine Author Interviews Each Week
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Thank you for joining us this week on the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast I hope you enjoy these Q&A sessions with wonderful equine authors who love all things horses and writing just like me.
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About Author and Podcast Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!