There are several aspects to launching something like the Solitaire Series, even since it is just a series of short stories for my blog that will later translate to being available on Amazon. One of them is that even if you are just posting short stories on Amazon, you need to have covers, keywords, and other items in place.

And I had a brilliant idea: I would use playing cards for each cover since that is where the name of each story comes from, but instead of just using regular playing cards, I would use special ones.

Copyrighted Images and Book Covers

What a simple concept. You buy a deck of cards you like. My wife has a wonderful camera, so taking hi-res photos was no problem at all. We’d just get a piece of black felt or even construction paper, take the photos, and send them to my cover designer. Simple, right?

However, just because you own a deck of cards does not mean you own the copyright to the images on them. So I ordered a few decks of cards that I really liked and contacted Bicycle Card Company.

The thing is, they actually have a portal for this kind of thing. If you want to use images of their cards in various creative endeavors, you can, as long as you get permission. You have to pick a specific product to query about, so I did that, following all of their instructions.

And I was encouraged. I got an email back asking me for details about the project, which I promptly provided. And then…

Nothing. I waited, and waited, and waited.

I sent a follow-up email.

And waited. And waited some more.

Purchasing Rights

Regardless, you can’t violate copyrights, not with a book cover, and not with anything really. And as a creator, I’m actually happy about that. I want photographers to get paid for their images, musicians to get paid for their music, writers to get paid for their writing, and even playing card designers to get paid for their designs.

There are even websites with tools where you can create your own deck of cards. Cool, huh?

Except I’m not a designer, and frankly my time is better spent writing. So on to the next step.

I began a search for royalty-free card images, preferably vector images that could be resized without losing any resolution. I tapped my cover designer, Elle Rossi of Evernight Designs, once I found one, she bought the rights to the “deck” and we were off.

The covers are amazing, of course. She always does a great job. Would I have liked to have some cool Bicycle card designs on the cover? Sure. But timing is everything, and theirs was nothing but bad. If they get back to me later, would I consider making changes? Maybe. But it might not be cost-effective then.

A Reminder of How the Solitaire Series Works

I wrote a blog post about this series in an article explaining the Solitaire series, but here’s a reminder about the deal with this series, although you can read details about the Solitaire code and the organization portrayed in the books in the original post.

Essentially, I am doing a short story challenge this year, writing a story a week.

Each one will be based on a playing card, drawn from a shuffled deck.

  • The only thing I have rigged is the final card, the Ace of Spades. Until them, whatever card I draw that week is what I must title my story and therefore include as a primary element of it.
  • All the stories take place in the same world, and there are recurring characters and themes.
  • Every week, a new story will appear on my blog here. It will stay there for only one week. Immediately after that, it will appear on Amazon (and later other places) for sale, and a new story will take its place.
  • There will be links to where you can purchase the stories, and throughout the next year, there will be eBook collections of each and even a couple of print editions of those collections.
  • There will be audiobooks of the series, coming soon after the print series.
  • We’ll have some podcasts from time to time with guests, interviews with readers, and other great stuff.
  • There may even be contests, prizes, and merchandise to go with it all.

Remember, if you keep up with this blog, you can always read stories for free. If you love them or want to take your time reading them later, you can do that too, and they will always be cheap. For the first 90 days, they will be available in Kindle Unlimited, so if you have that service, you can still read them for free until they expand to broader distribution.

If you’re not a Kindle user, you can always email me, and I’ll get you a link to the stories in another format.

The easiest way to keep up is to subscribe to this blog and to subscribe to my newsletter (see the form below). There will be once a month updates and all kinds of other information about various projects throughout the month.

Let’s have some fun! Who’s ready for the first Solitaire story, “Six of Diamonds”? Raise your hands! Share your photo of you raising your hand with me on social media with the hashtag #SolitaireSeries, and you could win a great prize!