Novelist | Filmmaker | Actress

Saturday, January 20, 2018

This Has Never Been Done? Best reason to do something, ever.

What do you do when 
you have a story you believe in, 
and your fans believe in it, too?
You raise the bar.

First things first: The Links

Second things second: The Real Story

(NOTE ADDED MAY 17TH -- I apologize for the confusion. I never said I was the first indie author to photograph her own covers. I was referring to a romance author shooting her own covers and then interviewing the models in character, which may still be a first? If not, again, I apologize. I did Google it beforehand. And I hope more people do this, because it's pretty fun and gives a fun experience for the reader. Back to the original article) 

Like many Indie authors do, when we don't have a lot of cash but need professional shots for our book covers, I started out licensing 
images through stock photography sites. 

Before I began writing Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series, I knew I was going to write about six brothers, so I 'cast them' first by finding six photos on Shutterstock of models who, to me, felt like a family. 

I did this before writing word one. 

That way I could write their stories with authenticity, having the brothers visually set in my mind so I could paint the story with their true hair/eye color and physical types. Two images were of the same model cast as twins. 
But here's what happens when you license a stock photo. You don't have exclusive rights to it. So anybody can use that same image. 

And they do. And should. 

You don't own it, and the photographer has to make a living, licensing as many times as she/he can. 

Many times this is a total accident when the same image appears on multiple covers or advertising. We all just like that dude and think he'd be great on our books. Pure coincidence. 

But sometimes not. It can be calculated in order to latch onto a successful property, for recognition. 

You can usually tell which, when you're on this side of the keypad with the knowledge and experience we self-published authors have. 

We indies work in the grit and grime of the biz, so we see more than an author who is protected by a big publishing house, one that does all that grit/grime work for them. 

But I wouldn't trade positions with a trade-pub author. 

I have never submitted to a publisher, nor do I want to. Even when judgmental friends or people in the industry assume that if you self-pub, you must have been rejected. about if you never sought approval in the first place, dinosaurs? 

Readers are an Indies only judges. If they don't like our books, they don't buy them. And they happily leave one-star reviews telling you what a pile of horse manure it is. 

Give me that over, "Please sir, will you publish my manuscript?" any day of the week. 

I like getting my hands dirty. 
I like control over my vision. 
It's my story and if it's going to fail (like some of my earlier books have) I want that book-blood on my fingers so I can learn from my mistakes, and grow. 

That's part of the fun. 

Hitting your head against confusion's brick wall is painful as fuck, but finally that wall crumbles and you see the light. 

A tiny sliver  at first. Then it grows. 

Until suddenly (not at all suddenly, really, this took me four years) you've got a hit on your hands and you finally write as well as you hoped you did (mistakenly believed you did) this whole time. 

Here's where the trouble came for me. 

My readers were starting to get upset when they saw the Cocker Family on other authors' covers and/or advertising. I began getting messages. My readers posted on Facebook, on my Fan page, my personal page, and in my group. 

"Isn't this Gabriel? Why is he on this author's ad? Is that legal?!"

"Look at this! They've got Jaxson on their book, same photo. Who do they think they are?" 

I told them about the licensing, because most readers don't know about the biz. 

But their instincts that some - not all, but some - of these authors were copying me on purpose, were founded in truth.

Be original, people. 

Be original...hmm...Now there's a wild idea. 

So this is what happened after I became almost more discouraged as George Bailey...

One exhausted morning, I was groggily emerging from nightmares when I heard a voice inside my head (we authors have many) saying, "Yo, dumbshit, shoot your own covers. You were a professional photographer for a decade. Nobody else will have those photos. Duh. I mean, seriously. Duh." 

Alright, I hear ya. 
And I need coffee. 
Here's the thing about those voices, they're often right, even if a little dickish. 

So I came up with this idea you can hear me talk about in this video. I linked it up there, too, but maybe you don't want to scroll back up through the novel I just wrote, and now you're more interested in seeing it. 

I aim to make your life easier, you see. 

That might have been said for comedic effect... 

But it's true. 

The reason I write this series isn't for money anymore. 

Originally I did begin writing it for money because when the idea for Cocker Brothers came to me, I was flat broke and $50K in debt. Not from shopping, just from living and trying to get a self-published, authoring, business off the ground. 

But that writing-it-for-money-thing came to a full and complete stop after I finished Book One, Cocky Roomie: Jake Cocker when I wrote the first bonus scenes. 

That's when I fell in love. 

Hopelessly, crazily, in absolute love. 

When I wrote Book One's bonus scenes I met Jake's three kids. Laughed a ton when I met them. And cried when I wrote Jake and Drew's fifteen-year anniversary, because she's older than him and is struggling with aging...but what he says and does, melted me. 

It was then that I stared at my computer screen, wearing my favorite sweats and fuzzy socks, and literally voiced aloud, "Oh shit, I'm going to have to write books for all their kids, aren't I?" 

It was going to be a lot of writing, and I'd only just finished Book One. 

Books 1-5 launched over five months. I have written nearly a novel a month for the last eighteen. Fifteen books are now out. #CoffeeAddict 

My life changed. And I was starting to help other people's lives, too. 

I began getting letters from readers saying my books helped them through hard times. 

When Book Six: Cocky Soldier: Jeremy Cocker, came out, I got letters that wives had read some passages to their husbands who had PTSD, and received, "Yep, that's about right," from their men...and healing. 

I received stories of illnesses in themselves and/or family (yes, sometimes it was both), grief over deaths and job losses, marriages that had been threatened because time  and depression had taken it's toll...but were now on the mend because the wife started laughing again because of my books. 

I cried many times, reading these heartfelt messages, absolutely stunned. 

The covers are sexy, sure. 
They have funny titles, yes. 
But there are real-life troubles in them.
And ways to overcome them.

The Cocker Family is tight-knit, loyal as hell, and they're flawed. They fight their demons in order to be able to love. There are stories of addiction, overcoming infidelity, lost loves, the list goes on. 

But they overcome these struggles and they do it with courage and a sense of humor. 
Laughter heals as much as crying. 

We all have rough stuff we must go through in this weird journey called life. 

Because they're easy-reading (Brain Candy, I affectionately call them) you don't have to trudge through a bunch of fluffy crap to enjoy the story. When the shit hits the fan in your life, you need candy. 

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down - Mary Poppins. 

Cocker Brothers = medicine, what medicine? 

Which brings me to the conclusion of this very detailed story. Still here? God bless you. 

I needed to give my true fans a universe that was their own.

It's not just mine anymore. This family is ours. 

I can't change the old covers, but I can, from now on, create something nobody else has, by shooting my own.

Since I'm the one behind the camera, I can interview the models in character, talking directly to you.

Cherry on top? 

Why not have fans vote on the covers? 

They're as invested in this family as I am. Why not let them get some skin in the game?

This is the miracle of today's social-media-driven world.

Readers are more engaged with authors than ever before. 

There's a conversation. I can include you in the journey. 

Join us. 

Voting will take place soon. 

It will be through Club Cocky. Sign Up Here. 

If you already receive my emails, you're golden. Cool stuff coming at you very soon. 

I'll be sending the choices with a poll, when each cover is about to launch. The titles will be secret until publication to protect Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series from copycats and keyword targeting, but you'll be able to choose the photograph you love best. Majority rules. 

This has never been done before in publishing. 

  • An author shooting her/his own covers. 
  • Interviewing the models talking to you in character. 
  • You voting on the winning images as the series progresses. 

It's a whole new idea that my dickish internal voices whispered to me one morning, but it's what makes being an Indie so much fun. 

Indies get to make the rules. 

We do it for our fans. 

And because it feels good.

Game. Change. Everything. 

I hope you enjoy. 


xx, Faleena Hopkins

Series on 'Zon | YouTube | Club Cocky   FB Pg | Insta  

KEYWORDS: #CockerBrothers, Kindle Unlimited, badassery galore.


  1. Congratulations on being a trail blazer! Must be that cocky attitude��

    1. Thank you so much Karen! We all need to be a little more cocky, dontcha think? ;)


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