The quickest route to market is of course self-publishing, it’s easy and with some print on demand publishers (such as KDP) it’s even free to get started, this is great for every author who dreams of publishing but not so great when you consider the competition.
So you will need to do more than just upload your manuscript and hope it sells, having a plan and a goal for your book is incredibly important, but this isn’t something that should scare you, there are lots of things you can and should be doing to make your book sell more copies, here are our ten favorites.
ONE - Use social media
The majority of authors take more than a couple of weeks to write their books, so you will have time to build interest, so start early with social media. It’s up to you whether you use your own personal account or create new ones specifically for your ‘brand’ as and author, but it looks more professional if you keep the two separate.
The key with social media is to engage with others, post regularly and get involved with other people’s posts, you can run surveys, competitions and advertising across all of the worthwhile platforms.
TWO - Create your own website
Having an online presence for an author is easy and very cost effective, there are many services where you can build a beautiful website without any prior knowledge in web design, most services offer the use of pre-made templates that are easy to build upon and make very unique sites. Having your own website is a great way to sell yourself and promote books to an audience, it sets you out as a serious author and offers other avenues to promote from.
THREE - Build a Mailout List
Moving on from having your own website is building a mailing list, you will need to offer something for free (such as the first chapter of your next book or a complete eBook of an earlier one), in return the visitor to your website gives you their email address, over time you’ll be able to build an audience of people who you can advertise directly to when you have promotions or new book launches.
There are plenty of email list services you can use such as Mail Chimp or AWeber who make this easy and offer a host of packages to suit most author’s needs.
FOUR - Talk to others
Write a blog (again, start early and use your website), join writer’s and reader’s forums and help others, when people ask questions online join in the debate and try to answer, keep the link to your own website in your signature.
FIVE - Polish your book
There’s a temptation to start the publishing process the second you type the words ‘The End’ upon your manuscript, stop, once you have finished the manuscript you should begin the editing and proofing stage next, no exceptions. Experience shows that the majority of books that go straight to print without being edited or even proofread will experience low reviews and painful feedback from readers.
Take your time, get it edited, proof-read and fine-tuned for your audience.
SIX - Test your book prior to hard launch
Have a soft launch first, get your book out to a close circle of people to read, this could be 30 to 40 people who you either give the book to or discount down heavily. The soft launch is not about making money from book sales, it’s about feedback. This should give you the opportunity learn, revise where needed and hopefully get some quotes to use on your back page and/or website.
SEVEN - Don’t be afraid to edit
If you have taken your time with the manuscript you should have had it edited, proof-read and tested further at soft launch, once you have all of this feedback act upon it. Editing is not a dirty word and can elevate your book from good to great.
EIGHT - Publishing formats
Choice is great, offering your readers several formats to enjoy your book in is crucial, the two most important are eBook and Paperback, you should always publish in these formats as standard (the research shows us that traditional printed book sales has been rapidly going back up over the past few years, so ensure you have this option covered).
The other options are Hardback and Audio, Hardback is nice to offer but it will not make up a huge chunk of your sales, audio is rapidly growing and should seriously be considered, there are great services such as Amazon’s ACX which offer everything you’ll need to publish your book in audio (even the voice actors to read the book).
NINE - Advertising designs
Ensure that you have a great looking book cover which makes your novel stand out (and in a good way), DIY covers will save money in the short term but will do nothing for the credibility of your book. Use a professional book cover design and have tie in designs for your banners on social media and posts.
TEN - Keep moving forward
As with anything you want to become and remain successful, the key is to keep going, the marketplace is very full but you can make sales and a name for yourself as an author.
Book cover design is the advertising and face of your work and something that every author should take seriously, of course we’re bound to say this, but in all fairness the statement is still true regardless. If you want to be taken seriously from the get-go, your cover needs to look professional.
And this is ever more so the case within a heavily saturated market, with countless easy ways to purchase and read books you are up against a great deal of competition from day one, so why take any risks with your own book?
Luckily most focused authors understand this, if you have taken time to write, edit, format and then publish your book you won’t cut any corners with the book cover design either.
A great book cover sets the standard (at a glance) of the contents, if you ever see a book cover design which has been badly made and quickly thrown together you make the same assumption of the book’s interior. Remember, the cover is advertising, and all successful businesses, brands, products and books use well designed advertising…..because it works.
Self-publishing puts indie authors upon the same selling platform as the biggest names in literature, and these authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham, J.K Rowling and others have very slick well-polished books, they obviously have a name which helps to sell their work, but their cover designs and advertising all look great, you know immediately that these books should be taken seriously.
The big-name authors do have big publishing houses behind them, which most indie authors do not, however, these large publishers fully understand that professional advertising and branding works, it’s a necessity because they want their book to be successful.
And this is such a key point, they have invested a lot into the publication and as such they want their book to be a success.
You may not have the budget of a massive publisher, but you should still pay attention to the details, ensuring that the content is well edited, formatted and with an eye-catching cover is very achievable for every author, once you commit to producing the best publication you can, your chances of success increase dramatically.
Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune in one hit, if you’re committed to a great publication then break it down over several months, complete elements within the book in stages, get the book professionally edited then move on to the formatting, if it takes six months…it takes six months (your readers will definitely appreciate it, and it will show in your book’s online reviews).
You have taken many weeks, months (and in some cases) years to write your book, don’t rush the publication, make it look as great as it reads.
Creating a book cover design for any manuscript requires research and (most importantly) information from the actual author/publisher, this may sound a little obvious but sometimes this information can be a little slow in coming.
It’s not unusual to work upon a project where the only information you’re initially given is a short sentence telling you that the cover needs to have a man on it and should look kind of dark and have a forest in there somewhere…… and that’s it.
The first things you’ll ask yourself is, how old is the man, what does he look like, what’s his hair, eye and skin coloring? Does he have any unique features? What’s he wearing, what’s the time period, what’s the genre? Where is the location? Who is the book aimed at? And so on…
What happens is that the author is so close to the novel that they take some of these small details for granted, and this is totally understandable too, if you’ve been working on a book for the past six to twelve months then you’ve gone past the point where these details seem as new and important as they did when you first started.
When something occupies your mind as fully as your book and its characters for a long period of time, it becomes harder to view the overall concept from an external point of view, this is why having a professional editor work on your book is so important.
When it then comes to working with a book cover designer, you do need to step back and think about your book’s concept and finer details, a great way to do this is to explain your book to a friend and get them to tell you what they understand about it. Can they describe your main character? Have they understood the genre and location? If not, then you will need to give them more information.
One way around this is in the questionnaire that we use with every author and publisher, this asks questions about the book both technically and detailed around the concept and focal points. This helps to get the author to furnish as much information as possible and in a timeframe that allows for detailed reflection upon the book they’ve written.
And this is a great process, focusing in on what your book is actually about helps with regards to the blurb and promotional synopsis for the book, condensing a book down into 300 words is far easier said than done, but it is an important element to the promotion and sale of the book.
So being prepared for the book cover design stage of the publishing process is helpful in both the aesthetics and synopsis, having the details condensed will help the cover and the sales copy. If you’re about to start on your cover, then stop and think about your book, what’s important and what information do you need to pass on to your book cover designer, the more relevant detail you consider now, the smoother the process.
Creating a book cover design for Ingram Spark is a little more involved than some other publisher’s requirements, and this is where the use of Adobe products is helpful (and a necessity for the designer).
Here at JD&J we use both InDesign and Photoshop when creating a book cover, we tend to create the artwork for the book cover design within Photoshop and then compile the cover itself within InDesign, we do it this way as the two work well together and Photoshop gives more scope for the artwork element within the book cover design.
One great thing about Ingram is their use of templates, now you don’t have to use them, but we’ve found it better to do so and it can be a great way of checking the specifics of the layout before upload.
Getting a template for your book is very straightforward too, from their website simply select ‘Resources’ then ‘Tools’, on this page scroll down to ‘Self-Publishing Templates’ and hit the yellow button, this then takes you to a page asking for the details of the book (note: if you have already uploaded your manuscript, once you type in the ISBN this form will then automatically update itself with the relevant info for your book). If you haven’t yet uploaded your manuscript you’ll need to fill it out manually.
After the ISBN you should choose the trim size of your book, the trim size is the size that the book will be once completed, the actual size of the cover is normally bigger than this and then trimmed to the chosen dimensions, you have a choice of 30 trim sizes within Ingram, although most trade paperbacks stick to around three or four variations.
Next you’ll choose the interior paper color and the binding type (Paperback/Dust Jacket/Case Laminate) and finally the finish, either gloss or matte.
Enter in the details for your book’s page count (note: this is always in even numbers, so if your count is odd, go up by just one page). The next choice will be for the file type, you have the choice of two, InDesign or PDF, we tend to use both (so this does mean filling in the form twice), the InDesign file is ready to use with InDesign and the PDF we’ll use to make the artwork within Photoshop.
Next add your email address and then finally the price of your book, currency (USD, CAD, GBP) and if you want the price in the barcode (most publishers recommend against adding a price as this can make promotions art a later date awkward).
Next click on Submit and your template will be sent directly to your email address.
Once you have both templates (PDF & INDD) you can start designing your book cover, load the PDF into Photoshop and then size the page to the outer edges of the bleed lines, this keeps the page manageable, make sure you use your guidelines to mark out where the trim, margins and spine edges are first.
Next, load the INDD file into InDesign and create a new layer (above the Guides layer and under Layer 1, layer 1 has the barcode in). In this new layer (in our example it’s named layer 3) you’ll place the Photoshop file (the artwork for the book cover design).
From here you can then add the copy for the book, the title, subtitle, author name, spine matter and copy for the back page, if you’re using Creative Cloud then you should have access to Adobe fonts, just make sure whichever fonts you do use, you have the correct license and authorization for (the same goes for your artwork too).
Finally check your ink levels for the book cover design, go to separations preview, Ink Limit and set to 240%, any areas of your cover which are outside of this limit will show in red, if they do you will need to adjust the ink limit within Photoshop to under 240%.
Once you’re happy with the cover you should export it, Ingram themselves recommend simply selecting the preset of PDF/X-1a:2001 and keeping all of its defaults as they are.
Once exported the file should be ready to then upload to Ingram and for use as your book cover, however, Ingram do have a lot of very useful information from their website, so if you're still a little unsure, check out their book cover guidelines which have everything you'll ever need to know in one hand PDF.
Having a successful book isn’t just down to luck, when you look at most of the best-selling authors you realize that they have all made sacrifices and worked incredibly hard to get where they are today. So simply knocking out a book in a week and just uploading your manuscript to KDP isn’t much of a plan if you want your book to be successful and of value.
But then you have to ask yourself the very real question, why are YOU publishing your book?
Most authors work at their craft because they love writing, they have a need to communicate and tell something of value, it’s a passion which makes them stress over chapters, paragraphs, sentences and even individual words. All to tell a story, pass on information, help educate and speak to those who will listen, it can be beautiful, powerful and change lives.
But again, why are YOU publishing your book?
For some authors it is purely for the recognition and status of being ‘published’, for others it’s an income stream to which they’ll churn out quickly penned books month after month.
Now of course everyone wants to make a living from writing, and obviously you want others to read your book, so publishing is the fundamental path to doing so and being paid in return makes absolute sense.
But, there has to be something more, do you want to be remembered as someone who brought uninspiring books to the world? Or as someone who clearly loved their craft and created great works which were loved by their readers?
I know the question sounds like a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ but, if you are purely chasing a quick dollar you’re in the wrong game (and your readers will see this immediately).
Writing from a place of passion has to be the very foundation of your approach as an author, it will give you the motivation to continue when others give up, it will keep you focused when going through the editing and review stage it will also give determination when publishing.
It’s very simple, if you don’t believe in and love what you’re doing, it will be so much harder to make it a success.
So, one last time….. Why are YOU publishing your book?
If you’re getting a book ready for publication you will have definitely heard the term ‘Trim Size’, this comes from the process of printing and actually creating the book itself, your book being printed on large sheets of paper which are folded, bound and then trimmed to the appropriate size.
And this leads on to a very good (and often asked) question, what should the trim size of my book be?
Well, it depends, there are some rules as to what the industry expects certain genres and topics to be printed as, but in these days of self-publishing those rules aren’t followed as much as they once were.
Mass Market Books – 4” x 7”
These are books which were originally produced quite cheaply and sold in places like airports (their small size making them great for travel, you also see them in supermarkets too), the size is most commonly used for fiction. In self-publishing you’ll find that companies such as Ingram Spark print at this trim size but Amazon’s KDP do not print this small.
Trade Paperback – commonly 5”x8” to 6”x9”
The name Trade Paperback is a term used to indicate a book which is larger in size than that of the Mass Market book. Trade Paperbacks tend to be the most ‘common’ size and work well for both fiction and non-fiction. The main differential between fiction and non-fiction Trade Paperbacks being the paper color within the book itself, again, there is no set-in-stone rule, but you tend to find that most fiction is on cream paper and non-fiction upon white.
Workbooks & Manuals – 8.5”x11”
These are larger printed books and work well as they are the size of a standard letter sheet of paper, they give room for two columns of text with plenty of space for images and illustrations, they’re more likely to be printed in color and use white paper within (normally with a glossy finish).
Hardcovers – ranging from 5”x8” to 8.5”x11”
The smaller sizes tend to be more for fiction with the larger working better for non-fiction, workbooks and manuals, this goes for both Dust Jackets and Case Laminates.
Sizes currently on offer through KDP are:
5" x 8" (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
5.06" x 7.81" (12.85 x 19.84 cm)
5.5" x 8.5" (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
6.14" x 9.21" (15.6 x 23.39 cm)
6.69" x 9.61" (16.99 x 24.41 cm)
7" x 10" x (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
7.44" x 9.69" (18.9 x 24.61 cm)
7.5" x 9.25" (19.05 x 23.5 cm)
8" x 10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
8.25" x 6" (20.96 x 15.24 cm)
8.25" x 8.25" (20.96 x 20.96 cm)
8.5" x 8.5" (21.59 x 21.59 cm)
8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
8.27" x 11.69" (21 x 29.7 cm)
For Ingram Spark the trim sizes on offer are:
For Paperback Books:
4 x 6" (154 x 102mm)
4 x 7" (178 x 102mm)
4.25 x 7” (178 x 108mm)
4.37 x 7" (178 x 111mm) A
4.72 x 7.48" (190 x 120mm)
5 x 7" (178 x 127mm)
5 x 8" (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81" (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8" (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.25" (210 x 140mm)
5.5 x 8.5" (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27" (210 x 148mm) A5
6 x 9" (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21" (234 x 156mm)
6.5 x 6.5" (165 x 165mm)
6.625 x 10.25" (260 x 168mm) (Graphic Novel)
6.69 x 9.61" (244 x 170mm) (Pinched Crown)
7 x 10" (254 x 178mm)
7.44 x 9.69" (246 x 189mm)
7.5 x 9.25" (235 x 191mm)
8 x 8" (203 x 203mm)
8 x 10" (254 x 203mm)
8 x 10.88" (276 x 203mm)
8.25 x 10.75" (273 x 210mm)
8.25 x 11" (279 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693" (297 x 210mm) A4
8.5 x 8.5" (216 x 216mm)
8.5 x 9" (229 x 216mm)
8.5 x 11" (280 x 216mm)
11 x 8.5" (216 x 280mm) Premium Color Only
And for Hardcovers:
5 x 8" (203 x 127mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
5.5 x 8.5" (216 x 140mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
5.83 x 8.27" (210 x 148mm) Case Lam
6 x 9" (229 x 152mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
6.14 x 9.21" (234 x 156mm) Case Lam/Cloth/Jacket
6.69 x 9.61" (244 x 170mm) Case Lam
7 x 10" (254 x 178mm) Case Lam
7.5 x 9.25" (235 x 191mm) Case Lam
8 x 8" (203 x 203mm) Case Lam
8 x 10" (254 x 203mm) Case Lam
8 x 10.88" (276 x 203mm) Case Lam
8.25 x 10.75" (273 x 210mm) Case Lam
8.5 x 8.5" (216 x 216mm) Case Lam
8.5 x 11" (280 X 216mm) Case Lam
11 x 8.5" (216 x 280mm) Case Lam, Premium Color Only
Again, there are no rules that you must stick to at all costs, the publishing world is constantly changing and standards that were fixed at one point are now more fluid than they have ever been.
However, the goal of your chosen trim size is to ensure that the reader understands what the book is, and that it makes the reading of the book a more pleasurable experience, so choose wisely.
We all know that self-promotion of your new book through social media is important, and I’m sure you’ve read how some authors have used this to great success, selling thousands of additional books and becoming ‘influencers’ in the process.
So, you open accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, post an image of your book with a link and wait…..
….And wait…………….and wonder why you have zero interactions, no one is following you and no one is following those links to your book either. Surely it should be easier than this, right?
Okay, maybe you haven’t expected results that quickly, but you get the point, social media only works if you work on it too. But for the new author embracing this great form of interaction (and promotion), what should you be focused on to make it more successful for you?
Here are some great ideas that you should be considering with your social media.
ONE – Post great RELEVANT and engaging content
The temptation is to make your social media accounts about one thing, your book or the product your selling, but just ask yourself one question, would you follow a channel which is purely adverts and very little else? No, of course you wouldn’t, we appreciate that ads are the things that keep these channels free to use, in many cases the ads are relevant, and we do engage, but we don’t follow a channel purely for advertising content alone.
So, the primary goal is to post content which engages, stimulates, entertains and/or educates (not too much to ask!).
Creating great content should be the number one focus for your channels, post about subjects and topics that you love, things that you are passionate about and would enjoy reading yourself, ask questions of your followers and respond when you get answers.
The number one rule is to always post great content that will engage your followers.
TWO – Engage with others
When you first start your channels you’ll more than likely start asking everyone you know to like, follow and share your profile, this is a great way to get you up and running but it still won’t amount to as many followers as you’d like.
The next thing you’ll do is look at how to get more followers, but how do you do this? Well you might be tempted by using a third-party service to generate bot followers, all of a sudden your numbers look amazing and you begin to think that you’re playing with the big leagues.
However tempting this is, don’t do it, these followers are completely pointless and most users can see straight away that your channels are not legitimate (a new account of someone who’s not famous/big name author, who’s only following 100 people but has 10K followers). Plus (and more importantly), none of these followers will buy anything you ever promote.
In order to grow your followers you have to engage with people, search out relevant topics and contribute to the conversation, follow people who interest you and some will follow you back. Growing your numbers is a long-term game, it’s something that will only happen when you get involved within the social media community and engage with it.
THREE – Use Visuals
Think of how most people view social media, it tends to be through their cell phones/mobile devices, a small screen which they swipe upwards when scrolling through their page. Also consider how much is posted within someone’s feed, keep in mind that the more people you follow the quicker the feed changes.
So, posting a short passage of text can sometimes get lost within the mass of quickly changing messages, when you use an image/GIF/video your chances of engagement skyrocket, make your posts bright, colorful, eye-catching and appealing.
You have a split second to get someone’s attention, use it wisely.
FOUR – Use a # Hashtag
If you’re not sure what a hashtag is or why you would ever need one, just look up any subject on Twitter or Instagram, in the top posts you will normally see a bunch of hashtags at the bottom of the post, things like #writerslife #writing #selfpublishing etc.
These are how users will find your post, in fairness, adding countless hashtags to the bottom of a post doesn’t look great, so be selective in the ones you do use.
FIVE – Create a promotion
People love free stuff!! Create a competition to win a copy of your book, it could simply be to share your post etc. You can also give away a free chapter of your new book to those who engage with your social media pages.
SIX – Use a headline for your post (if linking to another page)
Create a great headline that captures the imagination of your reader, this should be something which doesn’t sound like an advert but makes them want to read more.
Make the headline a question and/or use exclamation points if possible.
SEVEN – Timing
There is no point in creating great content if it will be seen by no one, the time of day that you make your posts is just as relevant as what you post about.
Usage tends to increase around lunch time and then again in the evening (Mon – Fri), at the weekend you normally see higher use throughout the day, normally from late morning (10am) onward.
You should also consider where your followers are, if posting in the US, then you should take into consideration the different time zones, if it’s 12pm in Florida it will be 9am in California. Also, if you have followers in the UK, keep in mind that they’re going to be 5-8 hrs ahead of the US.
EIGHT – Keep going
Persistence is key when using social media, not all of your posts will work (especially when you begin), but many will engage and over time your success with this media will improve, it’s important to remember this and just keep going.
Have fun with it and enjoy engaging with others, if you treat it purely as a chore which needs to be done then that’s what it will become. Social media is a great way to promote, connect, learn and have fun, but keep it positive, there is negativity within all social media, our advice is not to engage with it, keep your posts positive and follow/interact with those who keep it positive too.
We all judge books by their covers, it’s human nature to do so and why advertising works so well on us, after all, if advertising didn’t work, then all of the products in your local supermarket would be in plain packaging (it would be far cheaper for the manufacturers).
But advertising, packaging and book design works because it targets our emotions, there’s a saying in sales that ‘you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle’, because if you advertised just a raw steak it appeals less favorably to our senses than the same steak just cooked, still sizzling and on a plate ready to be eaten, think of the last TV ad you saw for any major restaurant to confirm their method, you’ll also see the same in banner ads on line and in print too (and for every product).
So, having a plain book cover with just the title upon doesn’t work, or does it?
Well, in some cases (and when done right) it can work, the issue is that the bookstores are incredibly crowed, and every publication is shouting loudly to be heard, so in order to stand out from the crowd, doing what is different can actually work. However, being plain for the express reason of cutting corners and costs normally leads to a book cover design that won’t work hard enough for the author.
Remember, the express goal of your book cover design is to sell the book.
When you look in a bookstore at the rows of front pages, think of how long you spend viewing each one, now think of how long you spend looking at book covers when browsing through Amazon’s bookstore, because it’s a lot less time (and this is where the majority of your sales will normally come from). Your book cover will be either dismissed or accepted by the viewer within a fraction of a second, if it doesn’t look professional the viewer will make the same judgement call about the inside matter and very quickly move on to the next title.
A professional design for the advertising of your book isn’t just for the wish list, it’s a must if you want to compete in bookstores (both online and in the real world).
Your book cover design will need to project a message to its intended audience, you’ll need to ensure that it’s appropriate for its genre, has impact and relevance for the book itself. A lot to ask in one image but it is something that book designers achieve over and over again.
Understanding the genre is important, specific genres will normally adhere to specific styles of design for advertising, this is because of our relationship and association to certain elements. For example, if you place an image of a sword within a cover the association will be with violence, fantasy, fiction etc. On the flip side, if you were to place an image of flowers then the mood swings to romance, love, passion, peace etc.
Being aware of our association to elements and their link to the messages you want to say about the book is important, this is something that most designers spend hours brainstorming when working upon the drafts for a new book cover design.
Along with these specifics within the design are the colors chosen for the cover, this can seem a little obvious (if you see lots of pink you may assume it’s either a romance or ‘chick lit’). However, there are psychological reasons for color selection. This is something that advertisers know only too well and use all of the time, for example, using the color red encourages excitement, passion, danger, decisiveness. Whereas black represents sophistication, security, power, elegance. The colors chosen for a book cover have a far deeper meaning than you may realize and should be chosen wisely.
Once you know what colors, subject matter and elements which need to go into the cover, you should also consider how much you place within the design. As mentioned earlier, your cover will only have a split second to grab the reader’s attention, but there is always the temptation to fill the cover with lots of detail about the book. You will need to condense the focal point of the book down to one or two elements, trying to tell the entire story upon the front page will lead to a design which becomes overcrowded, when in doubt, leave it out.
A great cover design will help sell your book, but remember, there is a lot more than just putting a title upon a stock image, with thought and creativity you can have a great design which promotes your work and catches the eye of your reader.
Organizing a book cover and formatting are two important parts of your publication that can overwhelm many authors, the fact is that you’ve written a great novel, spent weeks, months and maybe even years in creating a manuscript and now the next stage in publishing stands before you, making it look good.
So, what’s the best way of formatting and book cover design? Well, there are plenty of services out there offering both and you can also do the job yourself. However, unless you are proficient in applications like Photoshop, InDesign, Quark, Scrivener and many other great tools, I would look to use a professional to do the job for you.
Both book cover design and formatting are tasks that can be organized separately, there are plenty of companies who offer both services independent of the other and will get great results too. You will also find that more authors seem to be happier in formatting their book themselves, and in some cases using specialist software (both on and off line), you’ll also see that if you use a publisher like KDP, your Word document can transfer quite well to their publishing platform (however, even with Word you can do more than you may realize in formatting the manuscript prior to upload).
However, you still need to keep in mind the presentation and design of your book’s interior, uploading a manuscript directly from Word to KDP is of course doable, but if the justification and line spacing is off, the titles are on the wrong pages or the chapter headings are laid out badly then you do your book an injustice. You can save a few bucks doing it yourself, but is it really worth it?
Book cover design is a little different, this is more so for printed book covers and especially for those who print their book through Ingram Spark. The sizing and layout for a printed book has to be very precise in order for the edges of the spine to line up with the folds, have the copy placed within the margins and centered, to have bleed areas, fonts embedded, correct color profiles and the correct dpi.
There are several applications that can be used to create book covers, but the overwhelming industry leader is of course by Adobe, we always use Photoshop and InDesign for all of our book covers and would recommend it over and above all others (again, it’s what most professional companies within publishing use). So, you could download these applications yourself (they usually have a seven day free trial), but without any knowledge of the software you will need to study in order to use them.
The choice that many will have is over time and effort, how long will it take you to become proficient in these applications and how much effort will you need to invest?
If you are setting up as a publisher who does everything in-house, then maybe learning all aspects of the software needed could be a wise investment of your time (be aware though, even most small publishers outsource these tasks to professional services, we complete work for many indie publishers ourselves). If you are publishing just for yourself, then it is far more cost effective (both in time and resources) to use a professional service instead.
It’s clear that all great authors take their work very seriously, they also know using others to assist in their publication is normally the best course of action too, knowing where your strengths are and where you should use others is an important part of any endeavor.
They tell us never to judge a book by its cover, that we should look past the artwork and carefully crafted design to better see what the content of the product is, however, this is easier said than done. We are (whether we like it or not) easily persuaded by advertising in all of its forms, this is why companies spend billions every year on selling us their goods online, in print and upon the screen.
Book cover design is no different, when placed upon a shelf or on the screen of your favorite eBook store your book is just one title in amongst millions of other books, all of which are trying to catch the eye of the buyer and convince them to stop and take a closer look
And this is the deal with choice, when you have so many options to choose from (and keep in mind that there are over 2,700 new indie titles published on average daily) your reader has a lot of book titles to look at before they decide upon their next read, so they become quicker in accepting or dismissing what’s in front of them. So, if your book cover design doesn’t grab their attention, forget it
Choice is of course a great thing, but because there are so many books to consider, you naturally scan the shelves quicker than if you only had ten books to choose from
When you look at the major publishing houses and their approach to book cover design and advertising, you can see that they clearly take this very seriously. First of all, they have a great deal of money tied up in each book that they publish, so ensuring that the publication is a success is paramount. They also understand that advertising works, your initial perception of the book will either cause you to want to find out more or move on to the next.
The big publishing houses also have a large budget and normally a team of designers at their disposal, they plan professional campaigns and great looking materials to support each book. The challenge for indie authors is that these books are your competition, so if you publish with a cheap looking cover your work will stand out in an unfavorable way against them.
You will need a book cover design that looks professional if you want your work to be considered in the same light, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, but keep in mind that an unprofessional book cover will make the buyer assume that the contents of the book are just as unprofessional.
Book cover designers.