Do you have questions about publishing, writing and designing a cover? What about marketing? I am here to answer any of your questions... Ask Me Anything!

Roxana Nastase
Feb 7, 2018

Hello, there! I am Roxana Nastase (aka Rowena Dawn) and I wrote five crime novels and six romance novels, which I formated, designed the covers myself (with one exception), published and marketed them myself.

I am also Editor in Chief of a Literary Magazine - Scarlet Leaf Review and of the small indie press Scarlet Leaf located in Toronto, Canada. I format the online and print formats of the magazine and I am the 'mastermind' behind the creation and development of the magazine.

Well, ask me anything you want... 

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Conversation (106)

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What's it like being an author? Do you still continue thinking of stories even when you're not writing?

Feb 14, 6:31AM EST0

All the time. I started writing the ideas down wherever I am because I am afraid I might forget them. Being a writer doesn't mean you only write but that your mind never cease to create new plots;

Feb 14, 8:52AM EST0

What is the best feedback you’ve gotten so far from one of your readers?

Feb 13, 12:14PM EST0

I had a reader sending me an email - although I have no idea how she found it, and she explained in detail what she liked about the book. That was the best feedback I have ever had. Too bad she didn't write a review but still she made me happy

Feb 13, 7:46PM EST0

Do you design your own book covers? If so, what are some of the best tips you can share with those still working on their book cover?

Feb 12, 8:29PM EST0

Yes, I do. I bought some book covers in the past and I didn't have the feeling they conveyed what I wanted to say. So, now, I do design them. I found that the best thing is to convey the content of the book but not very straightforward. If there's no mystery left.... 

Anyway, it is important that you feel that the cover is what should be. I never give up working on it until I am satisfied with the colors, font and image. My advice is: never settle. I did it in the past and it reflected on my sales. Once I decided to change those covers, sales came again. 

Feb 12, 10:18PM EST0

How lond did it take you to finish writing, "A Churchgoing Woman" and like you mentioned you started with different protagnist but ended up chosing someone else, were you satisfied with your first draft of A Churchgoing Woman?

Feb 11, 4:11PM EST0

Actually, I wrote that novel within 5 days and the change in protagonist happened swiftly, without even noticing. After I finished writing the first draft, I only reviewed it once and sent it to editing. I didn't change anything and even today, this is my favorite novel (maybe together with An Immigrant -  I like that one as well).  

Feb 11, 6:25PM EST0

It's clearly seen that you have worked hard to reach where you are at right now. With so much experience in hand, do you help young/budding authors in writing or publishing their books?

Feb 10, 9:32PM EST0

I cannot help them writing but I do try to help them publishing their books through Scarlet Leaf Press. I have published several books written by authors that have not been published before, regardless their age, and some of them have been successful. 

Feb 10, 10:33PM EST0

What are criteria to include articles, short stories in your magazine if I consider sending one? 

Feb 10, 10:07AM EST0

It must be original. I don't mind if the submission has already been published somewhere else (if you have the right to republish it, of course). There is no criteria considering the subject or page numbers . I would prefer a word doc but if that is not possible, the text should be pasted in the body of the email. Check www.scarletleafreview.com for more info. 

Feb 10, 10:17AM EST0
Show all 7 replies

According to you what are some of the most cleverly designed book covers that you have seen?

Feb 10, 6:40AM EST0

This is a very tricky question. I've seen many book covers which I liked amd I can't choose one for an example. I wanted to come up with something and I checked a few books on Amazon, but unfortunately, I couldn't find one I liked. Maybe Kain und Abel (Germa version) by Jeffrey Archer. 

Feb 10, 9:18AM EST0

If you were to send one recently-published book back in time to 2000 to be read by every literate person in the world, what would it be?

Feb 9, 12:38PM EST0

Are we talking about one of my books? If that's the case, I would say An Immigrant. If not, I would send a book that doesn't picture the period 2000 - 2018. I wouldn't want to taint the historical perspective. In conclusion, I wouldn't sent a lirterary book. Writing this answer, I question myself about the purpose of doing so. No book would make a lot of splash to someone from the turn of millenium. Had I sent a book back to the 17th century for instance, then any book would have had a huge impact. 

Feb 9, 12:45PM EST0

Is it possible for you to make a living from your self-published books? What are signs of an unprofessionally self-published book?

Feb 9, 7:05AM EST0

I think it is possible to make a living but in time.  It takes a few years, though. 

People say that unprofessionally self-published book will show bad formatting and editing. However, I have just read a few books published by one of the five big publishers and the format was one of the worst possible and you can't imagine how many editing mistakes I found.

In the end, a book is as good as the reviewers say. I saw very good books, with above average editing and formatting with very bad reviews, which propelled them to the lowest of ranks, and books with very bad format and awful editing, which got extremely good reviews just because the subject appealed to tender feelings. 

So, in conclusion, everything is subjective and it is not up to me to comment or give advice in the matter. 

Last edited @ Feb 9, 10:02AM EST.
Feb 9, 10:01AM EST0

Could you share some light on how are profits split for a published book?

Feb 9, 6:38AM EST0

It depends on how you publish the book. If you go with a publisher, you will get a certain percentage. It depends on the publisher. I saw royalties going from 11% to 70%. If you publish yourself, it depends on the platform on which you publish. For an eBook on Amazon, you can get 30% to 70%. For the paperback, the calculation is a bit more complicated. They will substract the cost of the print and their commission and if anything is left, then you get a percentage. I had a book sold on Amazon.jp for which I got zilch. Apparently, there was nothing left after they took off the cost and their profit. I had to increase the price for the book for that site, but as result, no other book sold there. For different percentages, you need to check with the platform on which you publish and sell. I use Amazon, Draft to DIstribution, IngramSpark, Create Space, StreetLib and for audio books ACX.  

Feb 9, 10:16AM EST0

What are the some of the basic elements involved while designing a novel cover?

Feb 8, 8:23PM EST0

The most important: subject of the book, eye-catching, complementary colors, respecting Amazon terms (Amazon still remains the most important platform for distribution) and personal pleasure. I was in the situation of changing a cover for which I paid quite well just because I didn't really feel anything for it. Of course, you also need to know how to use at least one designing software or if not Kindle Cover creator. 

Feb 8, 8:43PM EST0

about dinajpur board schoolership result

Feb 8, 12:30PM EST0

Beg your pardon?

Feb 8, 12:59PM EST0

How can one display a cover photo of a UX design project? Can it be designed with only Adobe Photoshop?

Feb 8, 8:53AM EST0

In my humble opinion, yes. Adobe Photoshop is good for such designs. 

Feb 8, 9:07AM EST0

Before you became a writer did you used to write fanfiction? Like in your teens?

Feb 8, 8:39AM EST0

I never wrote fanfiction. I wrote poems and fiction. 

Feb 8, 9:07AM EST1

Would you consider the marketing approach regarding books within Canada different from other countries?

Feb 8, 4:43AM EST0

Not really. Marketing is almost the same. 

Feb 8, 9:06AM EST0

What are your personal thoughts on plagiarism?

Feb 7, 9:15PM EST0

I can't abide plagiarism. If someone doesn't have anything to say, they should forget about writing. Plagiarism is synonym with theft. 

Feb 7, 9:21PM EST0

In the marketing of your books who are the audiences, you have focused on?

Feb 6, 2:56PM EST0

As I write both crime novels and romance, I have to focus on at least two segments: the avid readers of thrillers and the avid readers of romance. Both segments are quite extensive and something they mingle. 

Feb 7, 9:20PM EST0

Are there other Authors that you are friends with? How have they helped you become a better writer?

Feb 6, 12:24PM EST0

Yes, I do have friends among authors and I always welcome their comments and advice, even though I don't always follow them. 

Feb 7, 9:19PM EST1

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

Feb 6, 10:38AM EST0

I have three book series already. It is addictive. I find myself plotting the action for the following books in the series all the time. 

Feb 7, 9:18PM EST0

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Feb 6, 9:26AM EST0

I have never thought of that. Probably someone like Paul Adrian for Victor and Keira Kneightley. 

Feb 6, 3:13PM EST0

What are the details ought to be known before designing a book cover?

Feb 6, 1:28AM EST0

In my opinion, the cover should reflect the book but not bluntly. I prefer to go with symbols. One should appreciate what would attract the eye, at the same time, remaining faifthful to the content because no one should mislead the reader. The consequences are quite ugly. There must be a balance in colors, fonts and one must have an eye for design. Knowing the technique is not enough. I didn't know much about technique and I still have to learn but my covers do have a certain attrraction. 

Feb 6, 8:57AM EST0

Did publishing your first book in any way change your process of writing?

Feb 6, 1:16AM EST0

No, not really. 

Feb 6, 8:54AM EST0

When writing about history or someone what style guides do you use and which is your favorite?

Feb 5, 2:05PM EST0

I haven't dabbed into historical romance yet although I have the idea for such a book. I will try to respect the respective era but I haven't thought about using a style guide. 

Feb 5, 8:56PM EST0

What makes good content? How do you know if a piece of content is doing well?

Feb 5, 6:40AM EST0

If a piece of content is not too cluttered and not too boring, then I consider it good. I can't stand repetitions along a text. It is not like you need to state a thing several times to make your point. 

Feb 5, 7:56AM EST0

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

Feb 5, 4:10AM EST0

I must admit that my day has no structure whatsoever. There are days when I write for hours at a time and days when I don't write one word. It depends on my mood. I am not a very organized person. 

Feb 5, 7:54AM EST0

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Feb 4, 6:51PM EST0

To be completely honest, I haven't discovered what the readers want. One might like something and two might dislike it so... I decided to write something I like in a genre I like. That doesn't mean I got to writing the book I really want to write. Considering all the studies I read, such a book will never be successful and will lie under dust till doomsday comes. Original? In a way, yes. But not because I am trying. It's because I don't anyone say that I copied some other author. Plus, from what I've seen, my writing is more enjoyable and better received by readers if no influences can be perceived. 

Feb 4, 8:24PM EST0

What are your best marketing strategies for your books, and what do you do for social media?

Feb 1, 4:02PM EST0

Before releasing a book, I have a cover release - a few weeks in advance. I try to involve people on Facebook (mostly) and Twitter, asking for their opinion. 

I also post some excerpts at a distance of a few days and if I am involved in a Takeover of Facebook, I also mention the book, cover and an excerpt. 

On the launch day, I sometimes have a press release (honestly, it worked only once and I am not sure that the success wasn't due to other marketing tools). I schedule tweets and posts on Facebook. The book usually is released at 0.99 for a period of three weeks. I also buy a few promotions - I worked well with BooksGoSocial, Bool Doggie, ContentMo, Awesome Viney... I tried some of the pricy promotions and they didn't bring anything - no sale , for instance for Angel Books. I tried giveaways but the return wasn't the one expected. And of course, I send a newsletter to my subscribers. Paid promotions on Twitter work well but not so well on Facebook, in my opinion. I started with Instagram in January, but to be honest, I really don't know how well it works. I will have to wait for a while before having an opinion. AMS in KDP Publishing helps a lot, although there might be times when ROI is not so good. 

Feb 1, 5:17PM EST0

What is your favourite book and author and why?

Jan 31, 2:24PM EST0

This is a very tricky question. I have many favourite books and authors (my likes are a bit eclectic). I love Mermoz by Joseph Kessel because it taught me what courage and determination mean; I also love Antoine de St Exupery - he has some intersting lessons to teach; Hemingway - a variety of characters and situations that sometimes overwhelms you;,  Bernard Shaw - for his acid humour, James Patterson - good plots, usually; Agatha Christie - logic and structure; Alexandre Dumas - adventure and history; Victor Hugo - for his plots and characters' development.....

There are so many... In romance, I like Nora Robert, Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn and many others....

Feb 1, 11:52AM EST0

Which author would you compare your writing to?

Jan 31, 9:20AM EST0

I don't think I can compare my writing to anyone. Maybe there is something of Agatha Christie and Rodica Ojog-Brasoveanu (a Romanian crime novelist) in my novels, but everyone says that they have never encountered my style. 

Feb 1, 11:44AM EST0

You’ve mentioned that you also design the covers for your books. Are you also a graphic designer? What skills are needed to design a cover?

Jan 31, 7:49AM EST0

I am not a graphic designer and it took me some time to learn how to do it. But apparently, I have vision and I never give up until I get what I want. 

Feb 1, 11:42AM EST0

How did you get started? Have you always wanted to become a writer?

Jan 31, 7:17AM EST0

Oh, yes. Ever since I was began to read and write. It took me a while to have the courage for publishing, but I have been writing for a while. 

Feb 1, 11:41AM EST0

How important is the cover of the book?

Jan 31, 3:15AM EST0

Although I don't like it, the cover book is very important. I changed one of my covers with one created by a designer and my sales droped with over 80%. I put the cover back, my sales went up again. 

Feb 1, 11:41AM EST0

What are you working on at the moment and what are your future plans?

Jan 30, 9:58PM EST0

Right now, I am working on the third book in the McNamara series (Relative Bonds) and the third book in the Perfect Halves series (Pulled In). I also plan on starting the third book in the Winstons series (Jay's Salvation). 

Jan 30, 11:21PM EST0

After you written a book, what is the first thing to do to get published?

Jan 30, 1:29PM EST0

Edit it. If you don't edit carefully, all your efforts were for nothing. I had the bad experience of having a book edited by three different editors and there were still mistakes in it. Although people seemed to like it that got hung up on the few errors left and I had bad reviews.

Jan 30, 2:56PM EST0

What is the hardest part of becoming a writer and how did you handle it?

Jan 30, 10:19AM EST0

From my point of view, the hardest part is marketing the book. Compared to that, everything is easy. I try to stick with a plan until it proves useless or favorable. Sometimes, the rules change and something profitable might become useless.

Jan 30, 2:53PM EST0

Do you write every day? What is your writing routine?

Jan 29, 9:03PM EST0

I don't have a writing routine. It depends on the mood and the time I have available. Sometimes, I write continuously - I wrote three of my novels in five days each, for instance. Other times, I simply put everything aside and go back later to continue writing.  I remember that one of my romances took me about two months and a half to write. I would write a page today and nothing for a few days. 

Jan 29, 10:02PM EST0

What do you wish you had known when you started? What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Jan 29, 5:32PM EST0

I wish I had known about Amazon KDP. I wouldn't have wasted so many years and I wouldn't have been so disappointed. Now, there are other great platforms as well. 

My advice to an aspiring writer is to think well what he/she likes to read and write and to study the market for that genre. Unfortunately, nowadays, writing the great American novel doesn't mean you would have a book that readers would buy. 

Jan 29, 5:42PM EST0

Do you research before writing? What sources do you use? Do you look for inspiration from other authors or the Internet?

Jan 29, 8:24AM EST0

I always research but I do it while writing. I use google and from there any kind of sources I can find. I never look for inspiratiion from other authors because that is plagiarism. 

Jan 29, 12:02PM EST0

What programs do you use for the formatting and the design of the covers?

Jan 29, 4:50AM EST0

I actually format everything in Word and then save everything in PDF. For covers, it depends. Sometimes, I go with Amazon Cover creator and then make changes using Paint. Sometimes, I use InDesign directly. 

Jan 29, 12:00PM EST0

Is writing profitable? Can you make a living as a novelist?

Jan 28, 2:47PM EST0

Maybe if your books become best-sellers. I know that there are writers who do make good money. I am still waiting. 

Jan 28, 8:41PM EST0

Where to find your books?

Jan 28, 2:09PM EST0

All my books are on Amazon. If you visit one of my author pages, you can see them all. Of course, most of them are on other sites as well. 

My author pages:



Jan 28, 8:41PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

Which one is harder to write a romance or crime novel?

Jan 28, 11:18AM EST0

For me, romance is harder to write. I never liked novels with very sweet love stories and sometimes I have to review what I write several times because I tend to be too cynical. 

Jan 28, 8:37PM EST0

What are the secrets and challenges of being a multi-genre writer?

Jan 28, 8:51AM EST0

Honestly, I can't answer this question. Sometimes, I feel like writing romance and sometimes, I feel like writing a crime novel. I always have two or three books in progress. For me, it depends only how I feel in a certain moment. 

Jan 28, 10:07AM EST0

What is your method for creating your characters? How do you choose the names and what in your opinion makes them believable?

Jan 28, 4:31AM EST0

I never create my characters before the story begins. I start with a general and foggy idea about who they are. They develop along the story afterward and many times, a character changes completely during the story. For instance, in A Churchgoing Woman, the lead male character was someone else when I started writing the novel. By chapter three, I realized that he wasn't lead anymore. I had already shifted - unconsciously- toward someone else. I write every scene picturing the scene in my mind (like in a movie, if you want) and I let people move, speak and react naturally. If that doesn't happen, I stop writing. That means the story and the characters aren't believable anymore. I don't taylor a character according to my idea of how he/she should react. They should react according to their age, surroundings, experiences... My own opinions would lead only to duplicates who have nothing to define them. 

Jan 28, 10:05AM EST0

You said that you self-publish. What lead you going your own way?

Jan 28, 12:45AM EST0

In 2008, my first novel was accepted by a publishing house. I signed a 7-year contract with them. I have never seen any royalties from them, although people bought the book (work colleagues came to me, asking me to sign the book for them - so at least about 30-35 books were sold). At the end of the seven years, I wanted my rights back. I was requested to pay $125 to have that in writing. Such an experience would lead anyone to self-publishing. 

Jan 28, 10:00AM EST0

How did you create and launched your marketing campaign?

Jan 27, 10:29PM EST0

First, I read everything I could find on the subject and chose what seemed most appropriate - I have a serious problem: I cannot brag so everything had to be as neutral as possible. Of course, my plans changed from a week to another (maybe every two weeks).  Whenever something didn't bring results for two or three weeks, I would change the plan. I use Facebook and Twitter mostly, and of course, I rely on Amazon campaigns. A good result came with Bookbun Ads. But mostly, it is guessing work. What works for a crime novel, doesn't always work for romance or poetry. Non-fiction is a completely different cup of tea. 

Jan 28, 9:57AM EST0

Do you have any website and social media accounts that we can follow?

Jan 27, 9:00PM EST0

Yes, I do. 

My website is: https://roxananastase.weebly.com/

My facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/roxananastase17/

Facebook page for the review: https://www.facebook.com/scarletleafreview/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nastase_roxana

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roxananastase1742/

Jan 28, 9:53AM EST0

What is the first thing you ever wrote? Did it get published?

Jan 27, 6:34PM EST0

The first thing I wrote was a novella when I was a teenager. It wasn't published but read in a creative group in my high-school.

Jan 27, 8:53PM EST0
What would you say is your biggest mistake as a beginner? What would you advise someone just starting with writting to avoid it?
Jan 27, 5:13PM EST0

I made two big mistakes in the beginning.  I used too many cliches and my writing wasn't very accessible. My first novel needed a lot of editing to become close to something readable. 

I would advise not to try to sound too smart. It hurts in the long run. 

Jan 27, 8:55PM EST0
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