Wishing You All the Right Words



We’ve been on sabbatical at House of Lit, but we never quit working! Ten new authors entrusted us to help them craft novels into works of art, and Riley Hill completed her long-awaited Naked World Trilogy. Check out her new additions, Skin Slickers and Crystal’s Skull. Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve helped to bring over sixty books into the world of enthusiastic readers.

We’re looking forward to striking a balance of publishing delight and success for authors while moving into 2016. New dimensions are heating up since we moved our headquarters to the wonderful Pagosa Springs, Colorado area. Remember, our editing and self-publishing services are all available online and we will still provide an excellent experience and superior product.

House of Lit wishes you a holiday experience in keeping with your warmest desires, whether you’re basking in the sun of Arizona or breaking off icicles in New Jersey. Be lazy, be productive, be fun. But most of all, be the free writer you were meant to be.

Happy Holidays

Holiday Greetings

                   Happy Holidays from House of Lit!

Copyright 2015 Yoly Fivas

Hot New Cult Book from Sosumi!

ROCK SLAM. Unlike any cult book you’ve ever read. RAVE reviews from industry professionals. Addresses PTSD.

Three women lost to humanity huddle together on the chill Oregon coast. If they are to heal each other’s fractured lives, they must heed the lesson imposed by a sinister crag rising from the sea. 
   A fictional book based on a true story, Rock Slam is one woman’s biography of pain and bliss, providing insight into families consumed by cults and forever scarred by evil. Through the blend of true life horror and crime, the workings of a cult and the minds of some captives may be understood. 
   The effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Stockholm Syndrome, and fractured personality occurring as a result of cult involvement are explored. 

Check it out:

Rock Slam

Rock Slam

Damon Za Speaks Out About Great Covers

Write a great book, but leave the cover to a professional.

Since launching Damonza.com 18 months ago, I have designed well over 400 covers, researched many successful books and their covers in all genres, and generally kept up with trends in book cover design worldwide. Through the knowledge and experience I have gained over this time, I have realized that MANY Indie authors are going about their covers the wrong way, and ultimately this is hurting their book sales.

Unfortunately, this is partly my fault.

The reason that I am (partly) to blame is that, as a paid service provider to my client (the author), I’ve been guilty of trying to give them what they ask for, instead of giving them what they need. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, and I probably should have come to this realization earlier, but however amazing the author’s literary talents are, there’s a reason why they are writers and not designers. The skills involved in transforming words and sentences into story and imagination are formidable, skills I certainly don’t possess. But they don’t translate into creating a single image that will convince a potential reader to pick up your book or click on your cover.

It’s obvious how important an effective book cover is. It can literally make-or-break your book sales. According to Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, a good cover is “…the visual embodiment of everything your book represents. Great covers, through their imagery alone, can communicate genre, topic, mood and setting. A great cover image makes a promise to the reader. It helps them recognize your book as one they’ll enjoy reading.”

In his free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (terrible cover!), Coker describes how one author went from sales of five or six per day to over a hundred per day only through a change in her book cover. It was also a good book, but without a strong, convincing cover, nobody would ever know.

After designing hundreds of covers, in many different genres, I know what looks good, I know what works and I know what sells. Which leads me to express my plea to authors: You decide what goes on inside your book. Let me decide what goes on the cover.

One of the most common requests I get from  clients is to depict a particular scene from the book on the cover. It happens all the time, and is a good example of what doesn’t work on a book cover. The potential reader is glancing at your cover for maybe two seconds. TWO SECONDS! There could be an incredibly detailed scene on your cover that shows the protagonist running down the road after her lover in the rain of a downtown Chicago neighborhood, conveying a real sense of lost love, hope and anguish. But in TWO SECONDS nobody is going to see that. What they’re going to see is a tiny thumbnail smudge and a typical indie author mistake of trying to put too much information on the cover. That will turn potential readers away far more often than it will convince them to click on that image.

Unfortunately, there is still a perception that traditionally published authors write better books than self-published authors. Whether or not that is true isn’t relevant. Books that are perceived to be by indie authors don’t sell as well as those perceived to be by traditionally published authors. And the first indicator a potential reader gets on which camp this author falls into is through that thumbnail cover image. Traditional publishing houses will pay $3000-$5000 dollars for a book cover. And it shows in the cover – not through the complexity of the cover, but the simplicity of it. The key to a great cover is NOT through creating a key scene from the book, but through evoking an emotion or telling a story in the simplest way possible, so the reader can see it, understand it and act on it in those crucial two seconds.

These are examples of effective covers that sell. Some have sold millions of copies. How many of them have a specific scene or character on the cover?

Cover Examples

Viewing my portfolio, you will see many covers that have scenes created on the cover. Those were designed based on the brief from the author. However, moving forward, I will be strongly recommending that authors do not have covers containing scenes from their book. I realize that may disappoint more than a few authors, and I’m pretty sure I will lose out on work because of this, but if I want my work to represent the best of cover design and ultimately translate into higher sales for the author, then it’s a decision I choose to stand by.

What makes an effective cover design?


Keep it simple. Always. Remember that a potential reader is looking at that cover for only two seconds  before deciding to click on it or not. Whatever the cover has to say needs to be conveyed in less time than that. A sign of an amateur cover (and by association, an amateur author) is a cover that is too busy.


Far more important than any image on the cover is legibility of the title. If you can’t read what it says at the smallest thumbnail size, it won’t get clicked on. In short, if the image interferes with the title, change the image.


The genre of the book needs to be conveyed in those same two seconds that the potential reader is viewing the image and reading the title. Certain genres are automatically represented by certain images, colors, fonts or styles. Stick with what works. A good cover designer will already know this.


This is the key ingredient for a great cover design that sells. This is what will convince a potential reader to click for more. The cover needs to convey an emotion quickly and simply, whether that emotion is love, lust, suspense, fear, etc.

Many cover designers will continue to create over-complicated covers that try to cram in too much, and this will cost the authors sales as they will be perceived as “amateur.” That is the unfortunate nature of a competitive marketplace, and unlikely to be remedied anytime soon. This will also continue to separate the self-published authors from the traditionally published authors, in terms of quality and sales.

Professional quality covers don’t have to cost thousands of dollars, but until authors let professional cover designers do what they do best, their decisions may cost them dearly in the long run.


Damon Za is a professional cover designer with multitudes of covers to his credit, including many for notables such as J.R. Rain and Riley Hill’s latest book, Deep Naked. Damon can be reached for book design here: http://damonza.com/. You can complement your House of Lit interior design and formatting with a cover by Damon Za!

Reprinted with permission from Damon Za.

Copyright 2013 Damon Za All Rights Reserved


Self Publishing on Amazon: The Basics of Ebook and Print-on-Demand Publishing

Wednesday Sept. 25, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Prescott Public Library (downtown)

Founders Suite (ground floor level)

Strap on your self-publishing helmet and hunker down for an evening of facts and head-filling ideas.

This is a new program to be presented by House of Lit

at the September meeting of Professional Writers of Prescott (PWP)

The Public is WELCOME!!

Local author, editor, and self-publishing consultant Carl Grimsman will pare down the new paradigm and lay out the learning curve for writers considering Amazon for their ebook and paperback publication when he speaks at the Professional Writers of Prescott meeting on September 25 at 6 p.m. in the Founders Suite of the Prescott Public Library.

Although  securing a traditional publishing contract is tougher than ever, the good news is that there has never been a better time to be a writer. The digital revolution has made publishing and distributing books much easier. Gone is the stigma once saddled on self-published titles, since they now can occupy the same cyber-shelf as best sellers worldwide.

Make no mistake, there’s a lot to learn in this new world of book creation and selling. Books need to be well-written, polished, and professionally put together, too, to compete with other titles in their genres. Most authors need to assemble a team, to help with such tasks as editing and cover design. And they’ll need to understand how Amazon works as a marketplace, to give their books the best chance to sell.

Carl will present a one hour talk, followed by discussion, and joined by Yoly Fivas, owner of House of Lit Author Services (http://houseoflit.com) , of Dewey, AZ.

This is a free presentation and we invite everyone to attend. If you’re not a PWP member, that’s okay. You’re welcome to check out PWP while you’re learning!

  • Find out how to build a team to help with production tasks, if you don’t want to do it all yourself. 

  • Learn what makes a book cover stand out on the cyber store shelf.

  • Consider the importance of metadata — your keywords, title, and categories — to help your readers find you.

  • Understand the basics of book editing, book design, and formatting, so your books can join the digital revolution in style.

Visit http:// prescottwriters.com for more information.

Please come and join us!

Copyright 2013 Yoly Fivas All Rights Reserved

Renowned Poet Red Shuttleworth Wins First Place Award

Western Writers of America awarded first place Spur Award prize for poetry to Red Shuttleworth and Riverhouse Lit (an imprint of House of Lit).

Red’s poetry is not for the lily-livered. It scrubs you with the grit of the true west and whips you raw with its brutal strength. In his epic, “Johnny Ringo,” Red takes you on a ride you’ll never forget…if you survive.

Congratulations to Red, now a third time winner of the coveted award. And thank you to Western Writers of America for supporting the artists and for the lovely plaque.

The Award

Riverhouse Lit & Red Shuttleworth Western Writers of America First Place Poetry

Riverhouse Lit & Red Shuttleworth Western Writers of America First Place Poetry

Prize Winning Poetry Book Here:


Ringo by Red Shuttleworth




Release of “Crook’s Regulars”

And we helped!

Civil War buffs will appreciate this detailed, excellent book by Kenneth Werrell, Ph.D. Meticulously researched, this book contains photographs of the period and officers, maps, notes, bibliography, and rosters, along with battle and other detailed information. Great as a gift during the upcoming season, or anytime for your local historian.