Authors love this question (or not). We come in one of two sizes: either we have tons of ideas and can't decide which to write next OR we panic over never again having an idea good enough to merit writing a book. Not surprisingly, I fall into the panicking author type, always worrying about pleasing my readers. My answer to this question *used to be* a vague remark that ideas are everywhere. That's all changed now.
The difference came about when an author posted on a loop that she'd been sued for using pictures that weren't hers. It struck me hard. Authors hate piracy (people posting our books for free or profit to themselves without our permission). That's called stealing. I would never knowingly use a work not in the public domain, but had I ever copied a pic here without checking? I could think of one instance, so perhaps I'd done it more often than that.
About this time, I began to think of pictures I would need for the cover of my self-published book, Holly & Ivey. I needed Christmas trees. I considered snow, a steaming mug of chocolate, and of course people. Maybe a winter wedding or church dressed for the holidays. Where would I find these things?
The answer: my new project. I opened a Pinterest account (pinterest.com/megankellybooks) and posted pictures there for authors to use. Free. No royalties, licensing or attribution needed. Anyone can download a picture and put it on their blog or website. Use it to make a cover. I just ask that people let me know if they used a photo. If no one utilizes this project, I'll stop working at it. If a photo struck a cord and was used a lot, I'd post more like it (and take down that one for a while so it wouldn't be overused).
Now everywhere I go, I look for opportunities. Which means when I look at something, I try to imagine using it in a book and therefore on a cover. Train tracks = the one that lived on the other side. That got away. That ran away. That escaped. Or lost chances. Or new beginnings. So I snap a photo or three.
Need a picture of a rose or a mountain or a park bench? I have those. How about a sparkling lake? A dumpster could be used by a mystery author for that D.B. or a clue gone astray, but it also put me in mind of Julie Garwood's Roses series.
It's exciting, and I carry my camera everywhere. I'll stop to take a picture of clouds or a fence line, which may turn up in the background of someone's cover someday--and my family rolls their eyes.
I feel as though I see book ideas everywhere. A church. An airport. A snowman. I can imagine books for each of these. Next Spring when someone needs a bunch of colorful Autumn trees, I hope they check out my Pinterest page.
Do you post pictures on Pinterest? Is there something you need me to find a picture of for you?
I wish you all a Happy Holiday.
Holly & Ivey, available now