I’m assuming that if you’re reading this blog post (and visiting this website at all) it’s likely because you’re an author who may need some of the services I offer. Therefore, since this is the first post on my new website, I decided to introduce the company and myself, giving you an overview of what ByThunder LLC can do for you, as well as providing my qualifications…

Welcome to ByThunder LLC, a one-stop resource for self-published authors or publishing houses seeking cover art and/or editing services for manuscripts, as well as promotional graphics for websites or book advertising campaigns.

Why did I begin this new website?

Actually, this is a revamped version of a site (same company name) I owned several years ago that was ruthlessly hacked by some Japanese porn merchants, believe it or not. Anyway, now that I’ve fully recovered emotionally from that loss and have thoroughly re-energized myself to start afresh, I decided to tackle the project of resurrecting ByThunder, upgrading it into an LLC, especially now with self-publishing becoming more and more “the norm” and the need for cover artists and editors becoming more and more in demand.

But what experience do I bring to the table when it comes to the services I offer?

A brief history of my years in the publishing industry, which I pray will illustrate my qualifications…

Back in the late 1990s, as I was putting the finishing touches on Sins of the Father, my very first novel, I started shopping for a publisher and an agent. During those days, I first attempted entering the traditional New York publishing industry and, alas, met with little success in securing that all-important agent to represent me. “Absolutely no reader,” I was briskly told by countless agents, “could care less about a Civil War novel, let alone any novel of Historical fiction. Go away and write something that sells.” This might have made sense to me had the book Cold Mountain not been at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List during these months of searching for an agent. Well, after receiving nearly a dozen similar responses, I came to the conclusion that all of those “professional” NY agents truly had no bloody clue what they were talking about.

It was then I decided to try my luck in the scary yet exciting world of e-book publishing, still in its infancy. I investigated the few companies in existence back then, and after meeting several authors online who lent much advice, I made contact with the company RFI West. Not only did the publisher offer me a contract for Sins of the Father, but they actually created an entirely new imprint named Pulsar Books around it. Finally, some initial success.

Then came the nerve-wracking moment of publication, all the while fearing that no reader would care, just as the NY agents had predicted. Thankfully, the book actually sold—granted, certainly not as many units as Cold Mountain, but enough to confirm that all those NY agents weren’t exactly the sharpest pencils in the box. Historical fiction, Civil War fiction, did have some fans after all. But even better still, my novel started winning awards and garnering positive reviews, and I received a glimpse of what the still-fledgling e-book industry might be able to achieve. I became fascinated with the new medium, and eventually wondered what I might do to help the many talented authors I had met through those early years, the ones also struggling with New York “professionals.”

I quickly secured a job at my publisher’s company, becoming an editor, then a cover artist, and learned how the entire industry worked, from acquisitions to contracts, from editing and copy-editing to book cover creation and e-book formatting, then finally to the entire sales process. Overall, an invaluable learning experience. For reasons I refuse to detail here—let’s just say that I, along with several colleagues at the same company, also learned what “NOT to do” when running a company, thanks to the teachings of the owner—I and my disaffected colleagues formed another company, which we christened Amber Quill Press, LLC.

That was way back in 2002, and here I am now in 2016, after thirteen years of simultaneously working as an Acquisitions Manager, Editorial Director, and Creative Director for Amber Quill Press. As the company’s sole cover artist, I’ve designed more than 3000 book covers for both e-books and paperback, edited hundreds of manuscripts, while also freelancing in both duties for a variety of other e-book publishers as well as self-published authors.

The bottom line? I understand the industry from top to bottom, knowing the detailed steps needed before a book successfully goes into publication. And as an author myself, I’ve undoubtedly stepped into your shoes on occasion as well, therefore I comprehend your anxiety and your determination to get everything just right. I have seen the numerous trends in genres come and go, and I have a thorough understanding as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to cover art design, winning numerous awards for my work (see my ThunderBio page for more information). I also know how to polish a manuscript to look as professional as possible, both in content and visual appeal, thus giving publishing houses less reason to reject your book, readers less chance to stop reading halfway into the story’s opening chapter, and a self-publishing vendor less likely to reject your final cover art flats or book files due to spec problems.

So whether you’re an author taking the self-publishing route in this ever-changing industry or an author seeking aid when it comes to perfecting your words before submitting them to a publishing house, perhaps I have a service that could make your own publishing journey less vexing. My prices are reasonable, and I work well under tight deadlines. I also hope the examples of my past work and details of my services that I’ve included on these pages will also persuade you in hiring me for your next project.

Should you have any questions about what I can do to polish your manuscript or “package” it as professionally as possible, even provide promotional graphics or format your manuscript before you self-publish it, I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Simply send me an email.

Meanwhile, happy writing and promoting to all. And thanks for visiting!

—Trace Edward Zaber, owner of ByThunder LLC


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