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Storm of the Gods by Amy Braun

An excellent book, and a great start to a new series!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

Title: Storm of the Gods
Author: Amy Braun
Series: Areios Brothers, Book 1
Publish Date: September 2018
Cover: Deranged Doctor Design
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThirty years ago, the gods of Greek legend returned to the world. Their return restored their powers, which had been spent in a cataclysmic battle with the Titans. With the ancient deities imprisoned in Tartarus, the Olympians now reside in Néo Vasíleio, formerly known as California.

Twenty-four-year-old Derek Aerios is a war scion, a descendant of Ares, the God of War. He and his brother, eighteen-year-old Liam, capture mythological creatures and rogue scions as part of Ares’s elite military force. As he struggles to cope with his violent powers and the scars of a traumatic childhood, Derek tries to keep the two vows he has made: protect his brother and never kill a human again.

But when Ares forces him to hunt and kill four rogue scions under Athena’s control—by threatening Liam’s life—Derek chooses to go after the scions in order to save his brother and keep his promise to himself.

Yet the closer Derek gets to the scions, the more he realizes that his orders are part of a deeper conspiracy that put him at odds with his mission and his conscience. Athena may not be the enemy, a traitor could be in their midst, and the Titans could be closer to freedom than ever before.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is an action book. It starts with the brothers returning from a hunt for a mythological creature that was running loose. However, they are attacked by other scions from another region and soon have many questions.

The battle scenes are so much fun. These are demigods using a lot of power, throwing around fire, lightning, and other abilities that have been granted from their heritage. However, when it comes to actual killing, all of the scions do hold back from actually doing that. Sure, they will blast each other with their fire or harden their skin for powerful blows, but they don’t fully kill. It becomes a big moment in the book when killing is considered. I liked that.

The action continues as they are quickly given a new mission from Ares, the god whose blood flows through them, giving them their powers: find out who attacked them, what they were after, and stop them. Recover anything they had taken. It’s a wild ride across all of the different gods’ domains.

The small complaint I have is that we never get into deep background. But instead of a negative, it makes me more curious about the area. Why did the Greek gods pick California to rule? Why limit themselves in that regard? Are the other pantheons real? Will we find more scions?

Derek and Liam find themselves crossing into the other areas, making uneasy alliances, and learning about themselves as they dig deeper and deeper into the mystery of why Athena did what she did, what the end game is, and what will happen to them if they go against Ares?

All during the read, I was pulled into the world. Again, I’m given just enough to hint a bigger picture and want to know more. I liked the brothers, and while it almost veered into some twenty-something angst, it never quite got to the point that I find annoying.

A solid five and I look forward to the next book!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

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Cover Artist Series: Deranged Doctor Designs

Invested_Ivana_100Welcome to our year-long series on book cover artists and designers.  Previously, we’ve talked with individual artists Chris McGrath and Gene Mollica.  Today we’re interviewing Darja from Deranged Doctor Designs, a company who specializes in creating book covers, branding, and promotional materials for self-published authors.

Check out Deranged Doctor Designs website and social media:

Invested_Ivana 50Hi, Darja.  Welcome to One Book Two! Okay, so first I gotta ask, what lead you to choose the name Deranged Doctor Designs?

DDD2 smallOur primary goal was to find the company name that would be easy to remember, but also unique; the name that will ensure that when clients see it for the first time, there’s no way they’ll forget it. 😀 We brainstormed for days before deciding on Deranged Doctor Design. There were some concerns that we might not be taken seriously enough because of the name, but then we said “What the hell…it’s too good not to make it our own.” 🙂

Invested_Ivana 50It’s an awesome name!  Your clients are primarily self-published authors.  What is your process for working with an author on a design?

DDD2 smallThe difference between DDD and most other companies doing cover design is that we have a project manager who is the main point of contact. She has significant experience in book promotion and publishing, and is therefore in charge of complete correspondence with the author on one side, while communicating with and handling designers on the other. Meaning, there is no direct contact between the author and designer. This may sound strange at first, but we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re getting much better results when designers are getting directions from our project manager who can, if needed, reshape some of the author’s initial ideas, all with the main goal of designing a best-seller cover. 

We design strong genre covers that will sell the book. Even if it means sometimes talking the author out of their initial cover idea. 😉 We will never deliver a product that won’t “work.”

Kizuna Coast - Mystery - Asian Borrowed World - Post Apocalypse - Adventure Demorn - Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery

Invested_Ivana 50I see you use some stock photography in your designs. Do you use all stock or do you do any custom photography?

DDD2 smallMost of our clients are self-published authors working on a budget, so we are trying to maintain affordable prices. Custom photography would mean raising our cover design package prices quite a lot, so for now we are going with stock photos only.

Invested_Ivana 50I know sometime stock images can get overused. At One Book Two, we are particularly amused by the character we call “The Hoodie Hottie.” Do you run into similar problems when using stock images? How do you combat the overuse of certain images?

DDD2 smallThis is the constant problem when using stock images. The best quality photos are always very popular, so many designers are using them. Furthermore, there is a constant demand for a particular photo/model type (bare-chested man, hooded man/woman, woman/couple in historical clothes, man holding a sword), and not enough different photos available, so the ones that are available get overused. But sometimes we have to compromise if we want to stay in the current price range. That’s why we never use the photo as-is (and just slap the title over it), but try to change it as much as possible using a lot of effects and filters. Also, we never use fewer than 2–3 photos for one cover. When needed, we even go with 10+ photos per cover.

Balanced Lindsay Buroker - Steampunk Fantasy hoodie hottie stock gal

Invested_Ivana 50Hmm… that makes me want to give a shout out to Gene Mollica, with his massive costume collection, and my friend, Mad Scientists With A Camera, to say there might be a business opportunity here. 🙂

It also looks like you have illustrated covers with no photography. Do you do digital illustration?

DDD2 smallWe are outsourcing digital illustration when custom illustrations are needed. The prices for those projects are higher than standard cover design prices and are calculated depending on each project’s requirements and scope of work (prices range between $400 and $900 USD). But most of the illustrated covers you can see in our portfolio are done in-house, combining several illustrations and vectors available on stock (standard cover design price).

We also offer fantasy map design where prices depend on the map size and number of details (prices range between $200 and $350 USD per map).

Custom-Illustration,-sample-1 Custom-Illustration,-sample-2-(for-Lindsay-Buroker)

map-sample-2

Invested_Ivana 50You don’t appear to be located in the US. Where are your offices?

DDD2 smallWe are located in Belgrade, Serbia—that’s in Southeast Europe. 🙂

Belgrade

Invested_Ivana 50Does being non-native English speakers pose any problems for you in interpreting what a client wants?

DDD2 smallEven though we are not native English speakers, we don’t have any problems communicating with our clients, considering that everybody speaks fluent English (this is a must when we are hiring), and most of us have experience working in multinational companies. Most of our clients are really surprised when they realize we’re not from the US. That’s usually when they propose a phone consultation and we have to explain that the phone call would cost them more than the cover design itself. 😀 😀

Invested_Ivana 50Not only do you create book covers, but you also create social media headers, teaser graphics, swag like bookmarks and postcards, and even teaser videos for books. What is your process for creating those?

DDD2 smallWe use images from the cover design to created branded marketing material for the author.  We try to be a one-stop-shop because authors find it easier to order everything from one place and get back to writing. Clients usually order promotional materials and swag together with cover design, and sometimes they also order formatting services.

blog header

Teaser Image

Alexander bookmark bookmark Braun Leuthold bookmark

Invested_Ivana 50What are formatting services?

DDD2 smallFormatting a book means preparing a manuscript’s text so the final product looks professional when published. There are 2 types of formatting:

ebook formatting: reshaping a Word file following ebook formatting guidelines. We use the Smashwords Style Guide. When a Word file is uploaded to Amazon/Smashwords, their software transforms the file from Word to mobi/epub and publishes the book in that format. If the Word file uploaded during the publishing process isn’t formatted well, the end product will have a lot of issues (blank pages, overlapping lines, table of contents not working…). Bad ebook formatting is one of the reasons why authors may have high number of returned copies (refunds). Furthermore, if you plan to use Smashwords for publishing to other retailers (like B&N etc), the book will be rejected unless all guidelines are followed. For this service, a customer provides us their WORD file, then we format it and return a FORMATTED WORD file suitable for ebook publishing.

paperback formatting: also called interior book design.  This is done in InDesign, a professional program for creating interior book layouts. When the text is formatted, we deliver a PDF file suitable for CreateSpace (Amazon) upload. You can always convert your Word file to PDF yourself ( “choose page size and save as PDF”) and publish it on CreateSpace. Most self-pub authors working on budget decide to go with this DIY option. But if you want your book to look professional, I would recommend hiring a professional. Especially if you have a book signing or some convention/author events planned.

As a note, we don’t accept separate formatting projects. We only offer formatting when it’s ordered together with cover design 😉

classic

Invested_Ivana 50Cool.  I’ve talked with authors who struggle with formatting.  Can you tell me more about the trailer videos for books?  Those have become really popular.

DDD2 smallWe don’t make standard trailers—a lot of different-style pictures/small video caps and text where everything seems like it’s coming from different sources. We offer “branded teaser style” with strong branding completely adapted to follow book branding and make a client’s book/name/brand even more recognizable. We use photo-slide types only, where each slide is done in Photoshop. 

Invested_Ivana 50DDD has some fantastic cover designs, you work in all genres, and your prices seem really reasonable.  What do you think is the most important part of your business for customers? What makes authors choose DDD and come back for more?

DDD2 smallI’m proud to say that we have more than 95% return customers. And more than 80% of new customers are coming as referrals from our clients. Google and social media do the other 20%.)

Aside from high-quality cover design and good prices, we give our customers the best possible customer service—short email response time; agreed-upon deadlines followed 100 percent of the time, no exceptions (sometimes we even deliver earlier); accepting urgent projects without additional charges (even if it means we’ll be working weekends); even giving advice to debut authors if they get stuck at some point during their publishing process. Each and every client is important to us. And even if they’re publishing for the first time, everybody is treated as a NYT #1 best-selling author. 🙂

Invested_Ivana 50That’s awesome!  So, how can authors contact you for a cover design?

DDD2 smallThey should definitely visit our website first (www.derangeddoctordesign.com), to get ideas on our design styles and see if these would fit their requirements, as well as to get some information on our packages and prices. There is also a “How We Work” page where authors can read more about the whole process.

For short questions, authors can contact us via Twitter and Facebook if they prefer, but orders are accepted via email only at derangeddoctordesign@gmail.com

We are currently booking projects for May. 🙂

Thank you so much to Darja and Deranged Doctor Designs for taking the time to talk to us.  As a special bonus, DDD is giving away one PRINT + SOCIAL MEDIA design package for FREE during our Birthday Blast Giveaway!  That’s a FREE book cover design for any self-published authors who read our blog.  Stay tuned on March 9th to hear all about our Birthday Blast Givaway.  It’s gonna be EPIC!

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