I've spent the last week researching. Researching editors, book cover illustrators, and how to publish and market my books, in other words, the entire gamut of what needs to be done outside of actually writing.
One thing I have learned is that it takes volume. You can't just write a book or two and then start focusing on marketing your works - you need to produce a slew of books so that your readers know there's more where that came from.
The exciting news is that I'm meeting with an editor tomorrow morning. This will be my first experience of its kind. I'm not quite sure what to expect, and I haven't prepared as yet, but I did receive estimates of cost and timing. It's not quite the $500 in editing that J.A. Konrath listed in one of his 2010 blogs, so we'll see where this goes. Certainly it is worth having one's work edited. (This morning I looked at a bestselling Kindle e-book and was astounded to see three spelling errors on the first page! Yikes.)
I also researched book cover art. First, I did it the hard way, googling various terms and making my way through the search results. I had long ago determined how I would approach this particular task, but had stupidly decided it wouldn't work. Finally, late yesterday, I decided to put original plan to the test. I went to the library, looked at the book covers I'd like to emulate, and looked at the inside information to identify who did the cover illustration, then googled them. Voila, there they were, and I've since contacted a number of them to see if they're interested in my project, which is, after all, a series, and would add to their portfolio if it takes off. And it appears that book covers greatly influences readers' buying decisions. I should note that this approach is likely a more expensive one, since these artists are already well known, and I may very well go back to my original list of potentially less expensive artists.
Through this process I also learned that the actual book cover does not solely consist of the cover illustration. Cover design is an important part of it. Cover design includes the type of font used for the book's title and author's name, as well as its size and placement. Further, it includes layout of the spine and back cover as well, all of which are important visual cues readers will use to decide whether they will buy your book.
The research is a lot of work but also a lot of fun. Looking at the various artwork sites is like being a kid in a candy store. The diversity is fascinating!