How to Find Inspiration Within and Design Great Covers with Jon Parker

Jon Parker with his book

Jon Parker is the author of three published books, father of four children and owner of the one and only Indie Space, a writing community for fiction and non-fiction authors.

Unlike some previous authors, Jon does like his coffee. Phew. He drinks black coffee but admits that he treats himself to some almond milk cream on Saturdays.

In this interview, we discussed inspiration, outlining, cover design and lots of writing tips. 

Inspiration from the heart

Jon’s published books are titled Mouthbreather, Toxic and Sacred. They are quite different, yet each of them is based on personal thoughts, experiences and feelings.

His first book is a novel based on the insulting word “mouthbreather”. Jon suffers from sinus issues and mostly breaths through his mouth because of that. So that’s where he found the inspiration to write a story about a kid with that problem. But unlike Jon, this kid gets bullied because of it. And he goes through a lot of other emotional problems, which are based on Jon’s own feelings and experiences. 

Toxic is his second book. It’s a short self-improvement book for men in which he shares his perspective on what toxic masculinity is versus what modern society says it is. 

His third book is something else entirely again. It’s a book by the name of Sacred that talks about angels, demons, God, Jesus, robots and more.

It’s the first book in a trilogy of what accidentally got called Christian Sci-Fi. The name comes from a one-star Amazon review in which a reader suggested that it wasn’t Sci-Fi but Chri-Fi. Despite the bad rating, Jon’s extremely thankful for this review and he wouldn’t delete it even if he had the chance. 

The topic is inspired by his faith. He declares that he’s gone through some ups and downs regarding his faith. But now he’s a devout person and since his belief in God is strong, he felt like he needed to write about him.

Besides the personal sources of inspiration, his books have one more thing in common. Jon wants his characters to have good values (independent of faith).

Outlining his books

Jon Parker wrote his first book rather organically. He didn’t outline and just made things up on the go. He knows this isn’t the best way to do it but he also believes that published is better than perfect.

You can read any book in the world about writing and you’re still not going to do it in the same way that those books do it. 

Jon Parker

So he’s aware this free book probably has some more plotholes, and he might fix that at some stage in the future. 

For Sacred, his second published fiction book, he changed his process. He did outline this one and he’s also outlining his next book Savage.

To outline, he uses two strategies.

On his computer, he followers Adam Lane Smith’s framework Write Like a Beast to the letter. It’s simple, easy and effective. (The Indie Space members get a discount on the Deluxe edition)

But he actually prefers to outline in his author journal. For this, he writes a prologue and paragraph per chapter on the right-hand side of the journal. On the left side, he writes important notes, names, superpowers of his characters, info about their past, and other key concepts.

When it comes to writing, however, he still lets his inspiration overrule the outline when needed. The outline gives him structure but when something better pops up while writing, he changes it. If it’s better for him and the reader, why stick to the original idea?

Learning cover design

When he started writing his first book, Jon had no idea what he was doing. He had to learn everything on the go and it was a huge struggle. If he had to do it all over again, he would learn more before getting started. (By reading things like Coffee & Pens, for example. Wink.)

So writing his first books took way longer than it should have. But the upside is that he learned a few skills like cover design. And that’s a skill he can now leverage since he’s designed his own book covers and those of a few other authors.

On his website, he has an entire post about the concepts of cover design but these are the basics:

Make sure it looks like the covers in your genre. Use similar fonts, colour schemes, placement of title and name etc. And don’t forget about the tropes. If it doesn’t look like epic fantasy, for example, people who are interested in epic fantasy won’t read it. 

Finally, he wouldn’t actually recommend anyone to learn this from scratch because it’ll take a couple of weeks to learn how to use photoshop or whatnot. And that’s a lot of time if you’re just going to design one cover.

Writing and author life tips

  1. Give yourself grace. You don’t need to do it exactly as other authors say you should. Allow for mistakes and build your own process based on their lessons. But grace should not be an excuse to be lazy. 
  2. Not all books need a certain word count. Word count should not be the goal. Say what you need to say and what will benefit the reader, nothing more. Respect the reader’s time. 
  3. Take it slow. Don’t rush it just because you want to get a book out there. Learn what you need to learn first. The more you learn, the better your story’s going to be and the better your sales will be.
  4. Document the process. Share things you’re working on. Talk about things you use and test. It’s a great way to build an audience and let them know what to expect of you.  
  5. Network with other writers. Learn from each other. Ask questions. 
  6. Define what success is for you. When you’re stuck, look back at your purpose. Write it on the first page of your author journal. 

The Indie Space

The Indie Space is Jon Parker’s writing community for fiction and non-fiction authors.

It’s quite funny how this started. Jon wanted to join a writing community because he loves hanging out with other authors. But when he discussed this with his wife, she suggested that he could start his community because he has a lot to offer. So he did and his community is now 25 people strong.

The Indie Space has a lot of interesting features for new and more experienced authors alike:

  • A monthly care package for members. This is usually a free training or guide. When you sign up, you immediately get the Modern Twitter Marketing Guide and Publish and Market like a Pro Author Workbook.
  • In the community, you can also get exclusive deals. We mentioned Adam Lane Smith’s Write Like a Beast, but you also get a discount on the Coffee & Pens E-reader

In the community, authors also do a lot of work to keep each other accountable and to work together.

Each month, they do a monthly challenge, like writing a short story. Besides, they’re working on a sci-fi detective anthology. 

And for accountability, they share their writing goals with different time horizons and they update their daily and overall word counts. 

Finally, members of the community get to use The Indie Space blog to share their ideas and get their voices out there. 

Big Dreams

Jon Parker has published three books so far but has written many more.

His big dream is to write 100 books during the course of his lifetime. Now, he’s working on a book called Savage.

Other projects for the near future include completing his Chri-fi trilogy and a 9-volume epic fantasy series for which he has already drawn the maps

These high ambitions also reveal his secret: he’s extremely optimistic and hopes he can continue writing forever. 


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