The back page of your book is the next thing your buyer will see after picking it up from the shelf, so having a blurb which sells is just as important as having a great book cover design.
So here are SEVEN elements you should consider before writing your non-fiction Blurb.
1 - Remember that the copy for the back page does have a job to perform, as mentioned before, this is to sell your book, if you can keep this in mind you should be able to create content which uses this limited space wisely.
2 - Don’t try to write War & Peace, you have a limited space and filling it with 400 words plus will put the reader off, you should also consider the trim size of your book, if it’s only 5x8” then your surface area will naturally be smaller too (remember you will have margins to keep text within and also a barcode).
3 – Also with space, you have the size of your font, most publishers and designers will tell you that the lowest size you should go with is 12pts (any smaller than this and the text becomes very hard to read). Along with the font size is the font style, it is always best to play it safe and stick to something a little more basic (either serif or sans-serif), having an elaborate font will work well for your title and sub-title, but using it for your blurb will make it very off putting to your reader.
4- Your copy for the back page has to inform the reader what the book is about and why they should buy it, this breaks your copy into several sections.
Firstly – What is the book about?
A short description of the book’s theme and contents, telling the reader the subject matter.
Second – Why should they buy it & What they will gain by buying and reading it?
Detailing the benefits that this book will bring within a statement along with listing the key elements using bullet points, the use of bullet points helps to very quickly catch the eye and attention of your reader.
Third – Does anyone (with relevance) recommend it?
This will be quotes from respected people within the field of your chosen subject, ensure that they are relevant (any quotes from an unknown or dubious sources can have negative effects).
Forth – What qualifies the author to have written it?
Your reader will expect to be shown why you wrote this book and why you are qualified to do so, if the book is on brain surgery and then you would expect the author to be a brain surgeon, the same goes for every other field.
Fifth – Who is the author?
This should give a little more detail on the personal side of the author, people buy from people they like, so this gives you a small space to show the human side of the author (again, keep it short and succinct).
5 – These five elements make a good layout to follow, but of course they can be juggled about a little, you can certainly move the quotes to the top of the page, in some cases where you have more than one quote it’s good to have one at the top and another halfway down.
6 – When you are using a profile image for the back page (and we would recommend doing so), make sure the image is professional and of a good quality, taking a selfie from the back of your cell phone may be fine for Facebook but not for your book cover, again, keep in mind that the back of your book is a sales page too.
7 – Give further details of how your readers can keep up with what you are doing as an author, you can add Facebook, Twitter and website details to the bottom of the cover, just make sure these pages and sites represent you well as an author and your brand.
A book cover design is more than just the binding and protection for your book, the cover design becomes the ‘face’ and advertising for the work, and this is something that every author should consider prior to publication. However, sometimes there is a strong desire to design your book cover with too many elements or a greater focus on a detail which is very personal, this could be something which you alone understand or appreciate and runs the risk of being lost upon the viewer.
Creating a design is a fine balancing act of knowing what to put in and (just as importantly) what to leave out, stripping the elements of your book back to their bare bones is a great place to start and will of course help with preparing your synopsis. For this you do need to look at your book with a fresh pair of eyes (and this really is easier said than done), but stepping back and looking at your book in an objective manner will help bring in to focus the primary elements of the book itself.
The objective is at first to have a clear understanding of its overall theme and message, being able to boil this down into one paragraph which clearly relays this to the reader will enable a more effective book cover design to be created.
So, start by writing your synopsis and then look at how much you’ve written, is it five hundred words? If so, then you need to start condensing it down, keep going until you can get it down to a couple of paragraphs, this should start to reveal what the key message for your book is. Please note, if your book cover needs to include characters within the design then you can add those details later, the key is in first finding out what the main focal point of the book is.
In some cases you can strip the book down to a line of text, for example: ‘The re-found love between a man and woman in later years, a story of hope, love and forgiveness’. From this short line you have an understanding of the theme and focal point of this book.
Once you understand this first you can then start to work upon the rest of the cover, from here you take this brief synopsis and flesh back out again, but only with relevant details. So, knowing that the book was about a re-found love between a man and woman you may need to get details of their description, location and era (if you wanted to add the characters to the book cover). Or, you could look at metaphors to represent the theme of the book instead, having stripped it down to the short paragraph you’ll find it easier to design to what is important.
In designing your book cover, remember to condense it down to truly understand those key focal points of the book and then flesh back out (don’t go too far) and only use relevant details.
Are you missing an opportunity with not having an audio format of your book? The standard format of course for most books tends to be either eBook and/or printed, which is fine and serves authors well, but think of the additional audience you would be able to reach if you had it in audio too.
People listening to your book while at the gym, walking the dog, at work, on a long journey or simply just relaxing at home, the possibilities are vast and an audio version makes consuming a great book incredibly easy.
But many authors dismiss this opportunity for lots of reasons, maybe they don’t have the time or inclination to record their own book, it could be a cost restriction or simply lack of knowledge on how to even start the process.
The good news is that it’s a lot easier than you may have thought and using Audiobook Creation Exchange www.acx.com will help you from start to finish, ACX is part of Amazon so you’ll be able to publish via Amazon, Audible and even iTunes.
You have a couple of options in creating an audio version of your book, either you read it yourself or you get a narrator to do the job for you, using ACX you have the option for both and it will guide you through the process step-by-step.
If you are reading it yourself then you will need to take in to consideration some of the following:
If this sounds like too much work, then you can always use a professional narrator to do the job for you, again, this is something that ACX offers.
You will need to set up an account with ACX and prepare a 1-2 page excerpt from your book, this will get used as an audition script for potential narrators. You then post your book or invite narrators to audition, after this you’ll be able to review the auditions and select your preferred narrator.
It’s at this point that you work out the costs of the narration and make an offer to the narrator, if they accept then you have a deal and move forward with the process. They then record a small part of the book (usually 15 mins) and get back to you for approval, once you’re happy they’ll then record the full book.
Once completed, ACX distributes your audio book through Amazon, Audible and iTunes, from here you can then shout about it to your existing audience and promote like crazy.
So, there is a little more work involved but it does offer the professional author a huge opportunity to reach an audience that would have been missed otherwise, we’re seeing more and more writer’s use this format, isn’t it time you stayed ahead of the game too?
In order to create a cover design for your book you have to take in to consideration many factors and be quite subjective with yourself (as an author that is), because while you’ve been writing the book itself you may have started to form a theme for the front cover design, and (with time) become very attached to that individual idea.
But is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, many authors have great ideas already at the forefront of their minds when it comes to the design of their book cover, however, being open to other ideas and the opinions of a design team makes for a stronger concept and a cover which is designed to help sell your book too.
So, when designing a book cover you should try to remember its main purpose, which is of course grabbing the attention of your next reader, the book cover is the face of the book and ultimately advertising. When you understand that the book cover has a job to do (as well as look great) then you have an advantage during the design process.
Knowing that your book cover is advertising certainly helps to focus your mind when looking at what needs to go upon the cover. This is a fine line between hooking your reader in and not giving too much away (more so with fictional books) and then making a statement for non-fiction (for a reader who is looking to gain something through reading the book).
Putting too much upon the cover is something that appeals to many first time authors, there is an urgency to sell the book by throwing lot’s of hooks at the viewer, in the end you have a book cover which becomes confusing and/or gives too much of the story away, condensing a book down into a couple of main elements presents a more organized and enticing cover which gives a clear message and has a better chance of being picked up and bought.
To condense the themes and concept of your book you should take your synopsis and write a newer and smaller version of it, if you had to shorten it to one sentence what would it be? This can take a while to complete, but it’s worth doing, this process really helps you to understand what the main focal point of the book is and what should belong upon the book cover.
Once you know what your main focal point is you can then start playing with ideas based around this, again, don’t feel the need to over work it either, some of the most powerful book covers use simple ideas to make their points, in some cases the art work may be elaborate, but the concept is still clear and concise.
Just remember, your book cover design is advertising that should grab the attention of your viewer, it should have a clear message within it, it should not give too much away but let the viewer understand what the concept and theme of the book is.
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.
Book cover designers.