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Blog, self-publishing

The Challenge of Learning New Skills

My adventures in self-publishing now see me taking on the challenge of learning new skills.

First of all, I had to check which of my books I am able to publish. That sounds odd—surely as I wrote them, I ought to be able to do what I like with my books? I can, but only when the rights to any previously published work has legally reverted to me. 

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above grey floral textile the challenge of learning new skills blog post
Photo by Thought Catalog on

My Princes of Kharova series is currently out of print. I love writing, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to write one book, let alone a trilogy. It seemed a shame to have His Majesty’s Secret Passion, Her Royal Risk and Heart of a Hostage gathering virtual dust on my computer. Publishing them myself will do two things.  It will give a whole new audience a chance to fall in love with my exotic heroes Leo, Athan, and Mihail. I’ll also be taking on the challenge of learning a whole new set of skills.

The first of these new skills is patience. Combing through each manuscript takes ages and a lot of concentration. There’s always a better way of wording something. I’ve also been updating some details within my stories. Technology is changing all the time. The cyber cafés I wrote about in 2015 are now internet cafés—and they are full of gamers! Phones are miles better today than they were back then, too. 

I find it easier to work through one chapter of my books at a time and then take a break. In an ideal world, I would set aside a week or two and do nothing else but work on perfecting each manuscript, but life isn’t like that! There’s the family to feed, the house to run, and Alex to walk at least twice a day. Not to mention all the fruit that needs picking and processing at this time of year. And of course, the weeds are running riot! I’m also a Reader for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme. This involves reading submissions and writing a report to help and encourage authors in their work.  That takes all my attention and often involves an element of research online to check details too.

I took notes of the settings and characteristics of each hero and heroine of my books so I could provide an art sheet for my cover designer, Joanna Maitland of Libertà Books. Joanna has extensive experience of self-publishing and understands the importance of book covers in today’s market.

Any cover must have an immediate impact in the thumbnail size used online. Covers are visible shorthand for the reader. It must tell them the book’s genre in one glance.

This is why all books within a genre have broadly similar covers. Romcoms use silhouettes or have cartoon-like covers, while World War Two family sagas have a photograph of a woman or women in period-correct clothes superimposed on a 1940s backdrop with planes overhead, and so on.

I gave Joanna copies of my books along with art sheets so she could create a unified visual experience for the series. Each art sheet included the setting of one particular book and every possible detail of its hero and heroine, from their height, age, and colouring to the clothes they wear.

Covers for escapist contemporary romances like Royal Passion feature a hero and heroine against a background related to the story.  A luxury hotel on a fictional Greek Island serves as the setting for Royal Passion. Classically tall, dark and handsome Leo became king of Kharova after the death of his brother. He doesn’t want the job and had to give up his medical studies to take on the role. His stay at The Paradise Hotel is a short period of freedom before his life becomes tied up in protocol and matters of state. Tense, anxious Sara is recovering from a broken heart and a health scare. Leo and Sara want very different things. He dreads his destiny, while she can’t escape her past. Can their passion free them to share a future?

That was the brief. Here’s the finished cover:

Cover, Christina Hollis's Book 'Royal Passion'. Greek seashore, glamorous couple. The Challenge of Learning New Skills

Learning the new skills needed to become a self-publisher is a challenge, but it’s been well worth it so far. You can find out more about me here, and see some of my books here.

I’d love to know what you think about the cover of Royal Passion—why not post a comment?

2 thoughts on “The Challenge of Learning New Skills”

  1. I love it. Beautiful people in a stunning setting. What’s not to like? I’m looking forward to it!

    1. Thanks, Julie! I wrote ‘Royal Passion’ in winter as an escape when the weather was wet and gloomy. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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