As most authors will have heard, Createspace is about to close down several of its publishing services that it currently offers to indie authors, these are additional services such as editing, formatting and book cover design. The good news is that they are still printing books for authors and that Createspace will still be a great way for any author to publish their book.
So, what does this mean for the indie author? Well for most it’s business as usual, for many indie authors the process of editing their manuscript was something they either did themselves or used an independent service (as they tended to be better value), the same goes for formatting, with great services enabling any author to have a professional and attractive looking interior.
Book cover design with Createspace always felt rather expensive for what you actually received in return, so for many authors, using an independent book cover designer was always going to be the better option, moving forward, it is now your only option.
It’s a shame to see Createspace scaling back on the services it offers, there were always some authors who were happy to keep everything in-house with CS and for them it will require some research with their next book, but for most others the publishing process will remain just the same.
As we get in to February our client list continues to grow and we’re working upon some very exciting projects that we can’t wait to shout about once published, more and more writers are making it happen with self-publishing than ever before, this is certainly great for the world of literature as there are some absolute gems about to hit the book stores.
The route to becoming a published author is of course easier in some ways, as you can completely control the whole process yourself, you decide when to publish, how to promote, how much to charge and which formats to release the book as. You can either approach this whole process as a hobby (ie: you’re not doing it to make money but more about getting your work out there) or as a small business venture where ultimately you want to make a return on your investment (when I say investment I refer to the time and money gone into the project).
We are also finding that the level of refinement to an author’s manuscript is increasing dramatically too, with more services (both traditional and new) every author has access to the tools which were once only available to large publishing houses, your book can be edited, formatted, proofed and reviewed within a short period of time and without having to leave your own house.
This refinement is something which is driven by the increase in publishing, with your competition being so much larger than ever before you need to ensure your book stands out in the right way. Along with the increase in publishing is the power of the review, with more books being bought on-line your buyers are more willing to leave a review of the book, this of course influences other readers and helps with your ranking within the sales pages.
More authors understand this aspect of publishing and polish their books accordingly, it becomes about creating a rounded package for the book, great content which is delivered beautifully within the pages along with a professional book cover design, when you match this with promotional materials and a marketing plan you elevate a book towards success.
So, it’s a great start to February and we continue to see plenty of opportunities for every author.
As we approach 2018 we may well look back on the year past and reflect upon our successes, goals, achievements and our focus for the new year, we may be looking to accomplish that one task or goal that slipped us by, determined NOW to make it happen in 2018.
For many of us who set New Year’s resolutions they can last months, weeks or just days, starting the new year with the best of intentions only to go back to old ways quicker than you’d like, from a writer’s perspective this can mean starting that new book only to shelve it in February (never to finish), or actually publishing something and after a couple of weeks promoting leaving it to stagnate at the bottom of the Amazon charts.
So, a New Year and a New YOU!
In order to make your goals a reality you have to commit to three things:
Plan for Them, Believe in Them and Work for Them.
It sounds simple right? Well most things are, if you want a great new body you’ll need to eat right and exercise, simple…....But we get distracted and don’t always want to put the effort in (I mean who wants to get up at 5am for a run?).
So as simple as it may sound, these three elements can and will bring you success with focus and commitment, you can achieve anything you desire as long as you are committed to it entirely, whether your goal is to write a novel or successfully publish your existing manuscript, you can make it happen.
Plan for it
A goal is just a dream if you don’t get organized, daydreaming that you want to be a number one best selling author is great but how will you achieve it? Have you written your book? Have you planned how you’re going to market it, have you contacted any agents or publishers? Do you have a timeframe for writing and a roadmap to publication?
Starting off with a dream is a great place to begin but you need to plan how you’re going to get there, work on timeframes and be realistic, if you want to publish a book that is 350 pages you need to understand how long it will take you to write, edit, proof and publish. So, 350 pages at writing one page per day will take you roughly one year to write the book (some days you may write more, others less), can you commit to this? If not, pick another target, maybe one page every two or three days, be realistic with your time.
Next look at editors, proofreaders and publishers, how long will it take using them and how much will it cost? Once you have these details, look at marketing, where do you want your book to be and how will you get to that position?
Understanding your goal and what makes it happen will enable you to establish a path towards it.
Believe in it
A goal or dream without your full belief is completely pointless, only when you believe in what you want or want to become will you make it a reality.
If you look at EVERY single success story one thing remains the same, they ALL believed in themselves and what they were doing.
Ask yourself honestly, is this what you want?
If not, then take time to reflect upon what your actual goal is, this may be an odd question but your goal may be more from necessity than from a place of creativity and desire. A goal born from a place of passion has a greater chance of success, when you work upon something you love your path to success becomes assured.
Work for it
When you know what your goal is, have a plan for it and are excited by it, the next step is to work for it, this is where believing in your goal and being passionate for it is so important. In order to make something which has longevity you have to put effort in, however, if you love what you’re doing then it becomes a lot easier.
Passion for your goal combined with dogged determination should be with you always, one thing that rings true is that those who succeed are those who never gave up, do not look for instant success, look towards giving the most and achieving the highest standards every single time…success WILL follow.
Overcoming writer’s block can seem like an uphill struggle to anyone who has ever felt a certain lack of creativity when staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper, you may have already written several thousand words and even completed a hundred or more pages, but then, bang! Like a huge stone wall, the ideas stop and you struggle to take the narrative any further.
So, what happens now? You know that some of the greats in literature have been through the exact same issue, yet they still went on to widely acclaimed success and glittering careers within the publishing world, so deep down you know that it is something that can be overcome, right?
Relax, overcoming writer’s block can be achieved but getting stressed about any lack of creativity will add to your ‘lack of creativity’, so the first thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about it, when ever you face a block keep in mind that it is only temporary, your inner dialogue should not be one of ‘I can’t/don’t know how to go any further, what if the ideas aren’t any good, this isn’t good enough, no one will ever buy or read it………’and so on.
Fear is a major reason why books don’t get finished, it feeds self-doubt and helps to lengthen any blocks of creativity, however, adjusting your attitude to one of confidence is easier said than done, but there are things you can do to push forward. The majority of successful best-selling authors all had to fight through rejection and overcome their own self-doubt, but they all kept going,
So, here are our tips on overcoming your doubt and beating writer’s block
Remember, any first draft of a book is simply just a draft, you can and should go back to it to edit and rewrite where needed, remembering this helps to take some of the pressure off.
Give yourself time, don’t try to write your novel in one weekend, if you can realistically only spare two hours a week then so be it, just make those two hours count.
Get out and get some fresh air, a walk in the park does wonders for creativity.
Make sure you have no distractions whilst writing, turn off your phone,
social media and email.
Write somewhere new, grab your laptop and go to your local café.
Have a routine, plan when you can write and stick to your schedule.
Meditate, so many successful people do this and it works wonders for their creativity, meditation helps you to get rid of the self-doubt and connect you back with your creativity, you can find loads of videos on line on how to meditate and if you’ve never tried it before give it a go (you may be surprised).
Read some classic literature to give you inspiration.
Listen to music and mix it up a little, try genres and styles you maybe wouldn’t normally listen to.
Get enough sleep, ensuring your mind is refreshed and rested helps you to formulate ideas and work at your very best.
Free write, just start writing something else, it really doesn’t matter what, but just the act of writing alone will get your creativity flowing again.
Keep going, don’t stop and tell yourself you’ll take a break for a few weeks or months, your book will never be written by adopting this approach, those who keep going are the ones who succeed.
Writing the book was the easy part! For most authors the marketing of the book is a task which seems to be surrounded in mystery, yes, we have all read the stories of how a little-known author self-published and went on to sell millions of copies world-wide, but for many new authors this seems like an impossible dream that is purely down to good luck.
But, as the old saying goes, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’, luck of course may play a small part in some author’s success, but their attitude and work ethic played a far larger part.
Taking ownership of your book’s publishing and marketing is the first step towards success, when you understand the impact and possibilities that every author can have upon their own work you can start to make things happen.
So, here is our list of things you should be considering doing when publishing & marketing your new book:
One – Know your reader – Not everyone will like or read your book, this is a hard pill to swallow for most authors, but it’s something that you need to get your head around quickly, if you try to target a broad audience you WILL end up reaching NONE of them, this is because you probably don’t have the budget of a large publishing house. Research your genre and get to know who your target audience is, with social media and niche forums this has become very easy to do.
Two – Plan a budget – Promoting a book can be done cheaply, but you may want to consider spending money on some advertising, this could be through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media platform, you’ll also want to consider an author’s website which will normally require a monthly fee, work out what you’re able to afford monthly and as your sales grow you should project an increase in spending to further grown your writing business. You should also plan for the expenses of publishing, these will be for things such as editing, formatting, proofing, book cover design, promotional materials etc.
Three – Standards – Never cut corners on anything to do with your book, if you maintain high standards throughout it will show to your audience, as a result you’ll gain their trust and loyalty.
Four - Engage with others – Becoming involved on Social Media and through forums is a great way to increase your on-line presence, but there is a fine line between commenting/posting and spamming, be genuine and don’t view every interaction as a sales opportunity (most people get turned off very quickly by the hard and constant sale).
Five – Give something away – Building a mailing list upon your own website is another great way to make connections and create a following around your ‘brand’ as an author, but most people will only part with their email address in return for something of value, it could be the first few chapters of your up and coming book or a guide to something relevant for your audience, make if of value and give it away for free.
Six – Plan your posts – Social media only works if you use it, sounds obvious I know, but planning your posts can ensure you stick to a routine and get the most back from them, there are services that can do this for you of course, or you can just pick a time each day and do it yourself (doing it yourself can be more fun and you can end up learning a lot in the process too).
Seven – More free stuff – Give your eBook away for free and shout about it, you can run a five day event where your eBook is free to everyone on Amazon, this helps to increase its page ranking and enables you to get copies to friends and family easily (which you should then encourage them to review your book, again, this helps with your ranking). Before the eBook is free make sure you post on social media, your website and send out links to your mailing list.
Eight – Write a blog – Writing an interesting blog can create an audience of people who enjoy your writing and would go on to buy your books too, it’s also worth guest writing for other blogs, this exposes you to another audience and will help forge relationships with other authors/bloggers.
Nine – A quick teaser – Inserting the first chapter of your next book at the end of the one your just about to publish can encourage your reader to buy the next book.
Ten - A Series – Depending upon the type of book you’re writing having a series of books will always lead to further sales and greater loyalty, you can find that it increases sales of earlier books too.
Eleven – Book cover design – Having a great book cover will help in the sale of your book, we all judge a book by its cover (this is why advertising is so powerful) so ensuring that your book looks professional is so vital to its success.
Twelve – Your digital footprint – You may have a great book cover design but how does your website look? And how about your social media pages and posts? Every touch point that a reader has with you as an author should maintain the professionalism and high standards you’d expect from a best seller. Use banners and posts that tie in with your book and your ‘brand’ as an author, it’s also worth having separate social media pages for you as an author (as opposed to using your personal Facebook account etc.).
Thirteen – Podcast – It’s all about creating a loyal following and audience, Podcasting is a great and very personal way to connect with your readers, here you can talk on subjects that are relevant to your books and use in a very similar way to your blog, what works very well here is interviewing someone within the industry upon your Podcast.
Fifteen – Make it easy to buy – Have links upon your website, social media pages and blog to your book’s sales pages and make sure they work.
Sixteen – GIFs & Videos – Using GIFS and videos within your posts and website is a fantastic way to catch the eye of the reader, they’re more likely to read your post.
Seventeen – Countdown – Start to promote your book in advance and count down to it’s launch, this is easy to do online and as long as you don’t spam people it’s a great way to generate interest.
Eighteen – Pinterest – Create a Pinterest account and update it with images relevant to your genre and book, you can make visual stories and really capture the imagination of your reader.
Nineteen – Book signing – In a digital age book signing can get overlooked by some authors and it’s a shame, book signing is a truly fantastic way of interacting with an audience and something that you can use to promote your brand on line with too. Start by getting in touch with your local bookstores and asking about being able to do a book signing there, be polite and flexible to fit in with their schedule too. You will need to ensure that you have plenty of books to take with you, along with banners, posters, flyers, bookmarks, business cards and even post cards (the more promotional items you have the better). Once you have a date organized, promote like crazy both online and by putting up posters locally (where you’re legally allowed to).
Twenty – Stay focused – The most important aspect in promoting your book is YOU, your attitude and dedication to making your book a success is more important than anything else, if you believe and want it to be a success it will be.
Your book cover design will become the ‘face’ and (most importantly) the advertising that represents your work as an author, with so many books being published on a daily basis, it goes without saying that making a great first impression is vital.
So, having a professional and creative book cover design should be at the top of your list (among editing, marketing and publishing of course), but how do you know what should be upon the front and back pages of your book?
Every author will ask themselves what the most important elements that should be upon the cover design are. You can end up thinking of the many key points within any book and find it is easy to become overwhelmed, convincing yourself that ten or twenty different things need to be shown (in order for the reader to understand ‘everything’ prior to reading).
The danger with this approach is that you can give too much of the book away along with running the very real risk of confusing the reader. If you add too many details it can lead to the reader having a good idea as to the outcome of the story prior to reading, also by adding too many details/elements (even if it doesn’t give elements away which would spoil the plot) the cover becomes too busy and as a result the viewer moves on to the next without taking anything onboard (there’s a very good reason that most best sellers stick to proven design methods which don’t over-complicate things).
Now for some book covers (especially fantasy), you will see a great deal of art work and detail going into the cover design, to a large extent the readers of these genres tend to expect and look for it, but there is still much logic and thought that will go into the layout and the scene which is displayed, again, these designs still tend to give a clear image to the reader.
In order to figure out what you should have upon the cover it’s important to understand the concept of your book when you condense it for your blurb and promotional synopsis, this process of writing both forces you to really consider those elements which are vital to the book and those (which although important) don’t need to be upon the cover.
In writing these it’s better to start with your synopsis and then start upon the blurb, the synopsis of course giving far more detail away with the blurb intended to be the ‘hook’ which convinces the reader to make the purchase.
Blurbs do take a while to write, I’ve known authors who have taken several weeks to write just 300 words for their back page, so when you’re working on yours don’t panic if you don’t get it done in an hour, it’s an important part of your book and you should take your time. But once you have your synopsis and blurb you will have a better idea as to what the most important elements are (for your cover).
Once you have your blurb you’ll have to condense it again to find an element which best represents your book, most blurbs are around the 300 – 350 word count and are normally spaced into three paragraphs (not including a bio), it should give your reader some enticing details about the contents. From here you should be able to pick out an element that will represent your book upon the front page, it’s very useful at this point to make a list of the keywords within the blurb and start brainstorming ideas from there.
By condensing the details of the book down it’s possible to create a great book cover for the most complex of manuscripts, a design which grabs the attention of the viewer and represents the work both creatively and professionally too.
Creating a book cover design for an Indie publication will normally involve one of the major players in the Print On Demand industry, now for new authors who may not have published their book yet, the first thought will be of Amazon and it’s publishing wing Createspace. Createspace is a great way to market and is the first choice for many Indie writers, however, their choice of formats is smaller than that of Ingram Spark and you’ll also find some distribution differences too (which we won’t go into today).
For the writer who wants to have their book as a hardback for instance, Ingram is a good choice and offers several options upon their website www.ingramspark.com, when we look at book cover design with Ingram they do offer a very useful template system, here you can simply enter the details of your book and they will then email the template directly to you.
This template can be easily found under Resources and then Tools (from the dropdown menu), on the Tools page you’ll find a link half-way down which takes you to the cover template generator. From here it will ask you to input details of your book, first will be the ISBN, Trim Size (offering thirty variations on size in the dropdown), moving on to the paper type and then the binding type, on each choice it will give details on each choice you’re making.
Finally, once you have the page count entered it will ask what file type you want the template to be, choose either INDD or PDF depending on how you’re creating the cover, we always use INDD as our printed book covers are always created with the use of InDesign. Under this you should enter your email address, it then has one last option regarding the price of the book and if you want this to show within the barcode, it also gives the choice of having the price in either US Dollars, UK Pounds or Canadian Dollars.
Once you have entered in the relevant details and hit submit you should receive an email from Ingram Spark with the tailored template ready for you to use. Once you open this up in InDesign it will have everything laid out for you including very helpful guide lines to show the edges of everything for you.
From here you will be able to build the book cover around the exact sizes needed for the book and by Ingram Spark, we tend to create a new layer and lock the two existing ones which come with the template itself.
The book cover design template uses color coding to show you where to place elements that are important (such as the lettering etc.) and where not to, the pink sections are the safe areas where text and important elements within the book cover should be placed, the blue areas shouldn’t have any text in them and the white areas should have no part of the design or text in at all. The templates also mark out the trim lines and where the book cover design will be cut in the printing process, this helps when extending the artwork to the very edges of the blue areas.
Like most book cover designers we create the actual image for the book cover itself in Photoshop and then ‘Place’ the image/artwork into InDesign as a separate layer, the working file in Photoshop needs to be created in CMYK, at 300 dpi and using ink levels of 240%.
The great thing with Photoshop is that you can alter the ink levels of the image/design you are using very easily, however, it’s worth pointing out that it does tend to flatten the file for you, so once you’re happy with the design, save another version of it in PSD and then convert the ink levels. You can alter the ink levels by going to Edit > Convert to profile > Change the destination space to Custom CMYK > change the DOT gain to 25% and then alter the total ink limit to 238% (going slightly under allows for any fluctuation), then click on OK twice.
If you now go back to InDesign and relink the image to the new flattened PSD file you will have the image at the correct levels, you will also need to check that any elements you have added in InDesign are also at 240%, so check the ink you have used for the text within the design. You can check to see if everything is okay by going to Window > Output > Separations Preview > View > Ink Limit and change the percentage to 240%. When you look at the cover design everything should be grey, if any element shows up red then it’s over the 240% and you’ll need to adjust it.
Once you are happy with the ink levels and the design is ready for use, you’ll next need to export the file for print, to do this select File > Export > Save File Type as Adobe PDF (Print) (*.pdf) > export using [PDF/X-1a:2001] and keep the other settings as standard, don’t switch on the printer’s marks or to use document bleeds, in output you don’t need to alter the color conversion either.
You’ll then have a Print-ready PDF which is ready for use with Ingram Spark and can be uploaded on their website.
Today's guest post comes from our friends at Regent Editing
“I can't see any flaw in this book!! I revised it three times, would you believe? Is there any problem with this book or the publisher's choice is sour?” The anger and frustration were clearly evident on the raging face of my friend who had completed writing his book in the span of two years and now stalked the doors of the publishing houses. When I met Harry, I stopped wondering why is it tough to find the faults or scrutinize your own work. Here are few of the reasons that I have observed why a writer could not find mistakes in his book:
You would find infinite ways that just don't make it possible for you to edit your book all by yourself. You might not be that perfect in critiquing your work or evaluating things from the other side of the table. Well, you must do that if you wish to get it published and turn it into a best seller this year!
The past week has seen Florida hit with hurricane Irma and some challenges for everyone who lives and works here, for us at JD&J we were very lucky indeed, the brunt of the storm hit us on the Sunday afternoon/evening with our power finally going out in the early hours of Monday morning. With our property boarded up and equipment moved to higher places we all sat out the storm and kept our fingers crossed for the best.
Monday morning brought news of severe damage to the South West, locally we had flooding with roofs damaged, trees uprooted, all power gone and all cell signal down too, being based on the East coast (in between Daytona and Jacksonville) our coastline saw erosion and large storm surges too, but in comparison to Mathew in 2016 the coastline locally faired far better.
The clean-up after the storm is something that people just get on with, we had friends, relatives and even neighbors helping us and us helping back in return, the sense of community after Irma is something that can restore faith in humanity.
Back up and running we have had to ‘hot-desk’ and have been working on laptops wherever we can get wi-fi and/or cell signal, for me personally it’s meant borrowing my wife’s desk at her business, luckily, they all know me.
But the main thing is that we were very lucky, many parts of our state had an incredibly rough time of it, with the Keys being flattened and cities such as Naples and Fort Myers suffering with severe flooding.
The American Red Cross is collecting for both Hurricane Irma and Harvey, if you’d like to make a donation, the link to their website is here The American Red Cross every little makes a big difference.
Getting a book cover design created for your new manuscript can be easier when you have some preparation, also having the information you’ll need and an idea as what to expect in the whole process can make the task quicker, smoothly and lead to results that you’re not only happy with but that show off your book at its best.
Having created hundreds of book covers, helped countless authors and publishers you have a great understanding as to what’s needed in order to make a great book cover, there is certain information that an author will need to give a book cover designer and this is far more than just the title of the book too.
So, what should you be thinking of when about to contact a book cover designer to get a cover created? Here we give our top tips on what you should be thinking of.
One – Have a clear synopsis – You understand your own book like no one else (well you did write it), but how detailed is your synopsis? Get a friend to read it and tell you what they understand about the book, when they tell you what they understand did they miss out something important? If so, your synopsis needs to be updated.
Two – Details, details, details – The more information about the location, characters, timeframe, era, subject matter, focal point you can give the better (remember this is the first time your book cover designer has heard about your book.
Three – Research – Look at successful books within your genre and collect ideas of what you like and what you don’t, remember, not everyone will want to read your book (when you appreciate this you can be great a targeting your specific audience).
Four – Research Book Cover Designers – Most book cover designers have their portfolios online which makes it very easy to find a designer you like, you’ll also find that most will provide you with pricing and contact details on how to find out more.
Five – Size – Having a size that you’d like to print your book makes the job a great deal easier for your designer, if you’re printing as a paperback you may want to consider either 5 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 for the trim size of your book, there are of course many other sizes to choose from, but having a clear idea will help the process.
Six – Publisher – Many indie authors will choose the likes of Ingram Spark or Createspace as their first choice for publishing their book with (they are both great services and an excellent way to reach a large audience), other authors will go via indie publishers and smaller POD services (again, these are great options too), from a design point it’s important that your cover designer knows as soon as possible who you’re using, they can ensure that your file matches your publishers specifications for print.
Seven – Contact – When you get in contact with your book cover designer, you should ask them about timeframes, drafts, how many revisions you’ll get (if needed), pricing, promotional designs and formats, going into the project you should have a good understanding as what to expect.
Eight – Drafts – When the designer is working upon your drafts leave them to it, otherwise it can lengthen the timeframe of the project itself, if you email each day asking for updates and to see unfinished drafts it can lead to an awkward experience for everyone.
Nine – Getting your drafts – Once your drafts are ready, your book cover designer will send them to you for you to consider, it’s worth taking your time and never rushing into making a decision, if you want friends to take a vote on which one the prefer then do it, just take your time.
Ten – Tweaks – If you like a draft but something needs a tweak, don’t be afraid to ask, again, if you have taken time to consider the designs you should be able to get back to your designer with your preferred cover and what details you’d like altered.
Having a book cover design created for your new book should be a fun experience, it’s the icing upon the cake and what goes on to be the very ‘face’ of your book, so enjoy the process and get a book cover you’ll be proud of!!
Book cover designers.