Coming November 1: The Cover Reveal of ‘Not Famous’

I’ve struggled quite a bit with the question of when to reveal the cover art for my novel, Not Famous. Publication is set for January 15, 2019, but deciding when to reveal the cover had me at a loss. When is the right time? I sought out lots of advice, and heard different opinions on the matter. Based on all that advice, I discovered something: there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Every book, every author is different.  I had to figure out the best thing for my novel given my situation.

So, what’s my situation? As a first time author, I’ve found it difficult to generate interest without having other work to point to. It occured to me that talking about a book that is going to happen is all fine and good, but without a cover to show people… something that says “this book is real, and it is happening” I may be hurting my ability to hook people in. I’m also losing time in establishing a brand. So, I decided to reveal my cover sooner than later. So, on November 1, 2018, the cover for Not Famous will be revealed.

Readers of this blog will know I’ve struggled with my book’s cover design for some time. For the longest time I’d settled on a photographic cover which I love to death. But, as this book became closer and closer to becoming a real thing, and I started thinking about the marketing aspect of it, I realized I needed to have my designer start from scratch, to consider the lad lit genre and do something that fit better. Initially, my plan was to use the photographic cover in the US market, and the illustrated cover in the UK and AU markets. But, I was advised against that by Jon Rance, and so after some careful consideration I decided to use the illustrated cover universally. The photographic cover is one that I’ll always love, and maybe I will show everyone eventually, but I know using the illustrated cover is the right choice… and I can’t wait to show it to you.

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My Novel Has Now Been Proofread!

Well, my proofreader took less time than expected! I got the manuscript for Not Famous back yesterday.  There were quite a few minor grammatical corrections! Over the next week I plan to go through the manuscript, approve all the changes and prepare the eARCs!

Aside from the corrections, my proofreader offered some thoughts I’d like to share.

On Nick, the main character:

…you made him believable and real to the reader, so despite his flaws (which made me angry at him occasionally) I was pulling for him to grow up.

On the story:

You do a good job of setting the stage for the story in the prologue. The break-up with Lauren establishes Nick’s shortcomings as much as her lapse shows poor judgement on her part. And then the whole issue of trust (or lack of it) is established and becomes the major theme of the tale. At the very end, he seems to understand that a full commitment requires total trust. Good way to pull it all together!

On the novel overall:

Overall I call this book a winner. Seriously. Why? […] I found myself having a hard time stepping away from the story. And then I was anxious to get back and “see what happens next.”

He also called it “an excellent read” in a chat later on.

So, I’m very happy with his feedback, and I’m looking forward to going through the manuscript corrections and getting ready to publish in January!

How Nick Hornby Influenced My Novel

It goes without saying that if weren’t for Nick Hornby I wouldn’t have written my novel Not Famous. Nick Hornby is credited with starting the lad lit genre, and that’s the genre of my novel. Still, writing any sort of fiction, period, may not have been in the cards for me had it not been for his novel High Fidelity. Naturally, the main character of my book, Nick Forrester, is named after Hornby.

I’m by no means a music obsessive the way Nick Hornby or his character Rob Fleming are, but somehow my first novel ended up being about music anyway. In many ways, my novel’s main character, Nick Forrester, is the opposite of Rob Fleming.  Rob is a music collector, while Nick’s music collection sits in a couple boxes in his former bedroom at his mother’s house. He can’t even be bothered to bring it all back to his apartment after a crashed hard drive wipes out the majority of his digitized music library. But, both become infatuated with practicing musicians. Rob has a one-night-stand with Marie LaSalle in the wake of his break-up with his girlfriend. Nick gets into a serious relationship with Alli Conwell a few months after breaking up with his.

Another way I was influenced by High Fidelity specifically in the writing of Not Famous was the  use of first person present tense. Most books I read are probably first person past tense, or third person past tense. There are strong feelings about what person and tense is the best. Some people hate first person. I’ve never had a problem with it. Quite frankly, I’ve never had a problem with third person either. But, quite a few lad lit writers use the first person present tense almost as though it’s a signature of lad lit, so I decided it go with that. One reason I like it is first person past tense presents the narrating character from a stand point of knowing what’s going to happen. They are re-telling the story, not experiencing it. I think what I like about the first person present tense is that you, as the reader, are fully immersed in the narrating character’s perception of events as they happen. It’s not an easy way to write, and there are times I cheat a little, (but, then again, so did Nick Hornby in High Fidelity) but only when I felt it worked at that moment.

My love of Hornby’s books, and the subsequent yearn for more lad lit books led me to discover other authors like Jonathan Tropper, Mike Gayle, Matt Dunn, Matthew Norman, Jon Rance, and Andy Jones. These guys wrote books I liked to read and thus, books like what I eventually wanted to write on my own. All of these authors, in their own way, helped convince me over a period of many years that not only did I have my own story to tell, but that if I wanted to tell it that I had to start writing it.

It only took me seven years to complete the damn thing. But, it’s gone through several edits, and is being proofread for the last time now. In November I’ll be sending out eARCs to reviewers (still looking for more if you’re interested) and I’ve set publication day as January 15, 2019.

It’s happening. Finally.

My Novel Is Now In The Hands of the Proofreader

Finally, after a several months process involving beta readers and editing… and more editing, my manuscript is now down to 94,452 words from its original 108,952 at the completion of the first draft. For the mathematically challenged, that’s a reduction of 14,500 words. I was worried about the editing process. When the first draft was complete I was convinced every word was necessary, and every scene was perfect. The past few months made it clear that I was wrong, that the first draft was bloated and needed to be tighter. Believe me when I tell you that if you had said I’d be able to cut 14,500 words from the first draft I’d have said it was impossible. My original goal was to cut it down to 100,000 words, give or take. However, as I continued the editing process, I discovered I was enjoying making the book tighter and cutting out the gratuitous dialogue and scenes… because I knew it was making the novel better and worthy of an audience.

So, yesterday I completed my final run through, which was technically “Draft 8.” The proofreader’s corrections will be “Draft 9” and my final pass through will be “Draft 10.”  After this, I will be reaching out to the book bloggers and reviewers who have agreed to read the book… for which I have set a target publication date of January 15, 2019.

If you are interested in a free electronic copy for review, please read the book description here and submit a request for a review copy.

How Taylor Swift Influenced My Novel

It was seven years ago when I first conceived the idea for my novel Not Famous. I’d had a rough idea of the plot and the main characters… but almost all other details got fleshed out during the writing process. Some nights I’d lay awake in bed pondering plot points and dialogue. One key aspect of the story was that the main character (named Nick after Nick Hornby) would find himself pursuing a young singer/songwriter playing acoustic gigs in coffeehouses and bars and such.  Naturally, I spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of songs she would play… either her own songs or cover songs. At this point in the planning stage, I wasn’t ready to discuss ideas or seek advice from others about what artists were similar to who I was envisioning to be Nick’s love interest. I spent a lot of time on Google searching for answers my questions. I can’t exactly remember what query I put in, but something directed to me to a YouTube video of an acoustic performance by Taylor Swift. That’s it! I thought. She’s the ticket.

I knew of Taylor Swift, of course (I have two sisters, after all)  but I’d never actually listened to her music before. I’d actually kind of avoided it. At the time of this discovery I was a bit more open-minded state (in other words, desperate for inspiration), so when I listened to the song I found myself so impressed that I wanted to hear more, and eventually, some aspects of the Alli Conwell character was inspired by Taylor Swift—and in the novel she is a fan.

Now, would I consider myself a Taylor Swift fan? Well… I’m not going with my sisters to any concerts anytime soon, but I do enjoy some of her songs, and I am truly grateful for discovering her music during my writing process because it helped me get in the head of the Alli Conwell character.

If you’re reading this you might be asking “What was the Taylor Swift song you heard?” Well, I’d like to tell you, but the song itself influenced the creation of a character and a plot point in the novel, so if you really want to know you’ll have to read it. Several Taylor songs get mentioned in the book, but the song that so profoundly changed the course of the novel is the last one featured, and happens in a pivotal scene.

So, if you’re a book blogger or reviewer, and you’re a Swiftie, I’d encourage you to fill out this form and request a review copy for when they are available.

Interested in a Review Copy of My Novel?

Are you a book blogger, Amazon reviewer, or just an avid reader who has a large audience? Well, I’m looking to recruit people interested in receiving a free Advance Review Copy (ARC) of my forthcoming novel, Not Famous, and reviewing it on their book blog, Amazon, Facebook page, etc.. I want honest reviews from people who feel the book is something they’d like to read. If you’re a science-fiction or a crime novel fan, my novel isn’t for you. If you like contemporary fiction in the realm of coming of age and romantic comedy, you may want to give it a shot.

Electronic ARCs should be ready November 2018 and the book launch is planned for January 15, 2019. This will give reviewers two months to read the book and have reviews ready for the launch.

So, read the book description below, and if you’re interested in giving it a shot and are willing to review it on your site and/or Amazon please click here and fill out the form.


For fans of Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle, Not Famous is a heartwarming and humorous tale of love, music, and the unexpected.

Nick Forrester thought he would spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend, Lauren—until he proposed. Instead of engaged, he ends up humiliated and alone. Then he meets Alli Conwell, a socially awkward nineteen-year-old barista, and Nick has hope again. Alli is trying to make a name for herself as a singer/songwriter and might just be the next Taylor Swift. She’s ambitious, talented, and determined to succeed on her own terms.

But all is not what it seems. Is she “the one” or just “another one” who will break his heart? Alli has secrets about her life before moving to the city, and her innocence has left her unprepared for the temptations of Boston’s indie music scene. As their relationship blossoms, so do the tensions created by the past she’s trying to hide and the heartbreak he’s trying to forget. Is he too damaged to trust her? Is she hiding too much to let him?

Writing The Headline for My Novel’s Blurb

[NOTE: Updated to reflect further revisions.]

So, while I was focusing on trying to figure out the book description for Not Famous, I’d forgotten something… the headline!  It seems like most books now have a headline above the description and it had completely slipped my mind.

So, I did some research. I looked up sample headlines from books and authors within my genre and sought to figure out how to approach mine.

I looked at the Amazon listings for High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby as a starting point.

Here’s the headline for High Fidelity:

From the bestselling author of Funny Girl, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down, a wise and hilarious novel about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll.

Here’s the headline for Juliet, Naked:

From the beloved New York Times– bestselling author, a quintessential Nick Hornby tale of music, superfandom, and the truths and lies we tell ourselves about life and love.

At least 50 percent of these blurbs are devoted to pumping the author… because, obviously, Nick Hornby is an established, bestselling author.  I’m neither. So, when we break these down to the actual novel pitch, here’s what we get “a wise and hilarious novel about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll” and “tale of music, superfandom, and the truths and lies we tell ourselves about life and love.”

I also checked out headlines on books by Jon Rance, Mike Gayle, Jonathan Tropper, and others in the genre. Here’s the headline on About Us by Jon Rance:

It’s about life. It’s about love. It’s about us.

When I compared these and other, similar headlines, I noticed that they basically adhere to the same formula. They pick three primary themes to sell the story to the reader. High Fidelity is about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll. The headline for Juliet, Naked gives us two simply stated themes (music and superfandom) and a third theme that is a bit more complex to explain (the truths and lies we tell ourselves about life and love) though you could probably boil it down to “communication.”

The headline for About Us  presents us with the themes life, love, and us. What makes this one particularly clever is that the that it simultaneously incorporates the title of the novel, and informs the reader this is a story will be relatable to them. It’s short and sweet and works very well.

Here’s what I came up with after my research:

A heartwarming and humorous tale of love, music, and the unexpected.

After showing this to my first beta reader I was advised to put more of a hook in the headline, something that draws upon the tension that is central to the novel’s plot. She suggested: Is he too damaged to love her? Is she hiding too much to let him? This was perfect, so I tacked that on to the front of the headline, and adjusted it to the following:

Is he too damaged to love her? Is she hiding too much to let him? Not Famous is a heartwarming and humorous tale of love, music, and the unexpected.

This really works for me. The relationship between the two main characters is the primary story, which is clear from this headline. The main themes are presented, and it establishes that the story has emotion, humor, and a twist. After some more tweaks of the headline and the previous verston of the blurb, here’s what I came up with:

For fans of Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle, Not Famous is a heartwarming and humorous tale of love, music, and the unexpected.

Nick Forrester thought he would spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend, Lauren—until he proposed. Instead of engaged, he ends up humiliated and alone. Then he meets Alli Conwell, a socially awkward nineteen-year-old barista, and Nick has hope again. Alli is trying to make a name for herself on the local music scene and might just be the next Taylor Swift. She’s ambitious, talented, and determined to succeed on her own terms.

But all is not what it seems. Is she “the one” or just “another one” who will break his heart? Alli has secrets about her life before moving to the city, and her innocence has left her unprepared for the temptations of Boston’s indie music scene. As their relationship blossoms, so do the tensions created by the past she’s trying to hide and the heartbreak he’s trying to forget. Is she hiding too much to let him? Is he too damaged to trust her?

So, what do you think? Am I on the right track?