The other reason will be the cost of publishing or investing in your work, now I choose the word investing wisely, this is because if you are serious about the public finding and then buying your book you need to ensure that it is well represented. So what does that mean? Well, it means that you’re going to have to take the fine tuning, promotion and representation of your book just as seriously as you took in writing it in the first place.
This cost will be in the editing, proofing, the book cover design you have to represent your title and the advertising you use to promote it, you don’t have to spend a fortune but your work does need to be professionally represented with every service and touch point that you use.
However, once your book is launched getting it published as a paperback or hardback is the next logical step, this doesn’t have to be a headache either. The services you engaged whilst creating your eBook will be able to help you once more, the two most important at this point will be the formatting and the book cover design you choose to represent your book.
For the book cover design it is best to get some help from your designer, a cover which has been used only for an eBook will have several factors which will need to be changed in order to get it ready for use as a printed paperback or even as a hardback cover.
The next element will be the color model of your cover design, your eBook will have been created using RGB (Red Green and Blue), again this is done because of the product that the book will be read upon. For printing the color model may need to be changed to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), in some cases you’ll see a color shift within the design because of CMYK’s smaller color range in comparison to RGB. This isn’t always the case though and services such as Createspace print using RGB, however it is worth pointing out that some other services such as Ingram Spark or Lightning Source (among others) will not only want your cover in CMYK but they’ll reduce the ink levels down to 240% too (this is where your designer will be able to help you).
Now you have the actual layout of the design, the book cover will need to be delivered as a print ready PDF with the font’s used within the design embedded, it should also be created slightly larger than the actual ‘Trim’ size of the book (this is to ensure that you don’t get unwanted white lines to the outside four edges of the cover when it’s trimmed to the actual size of your book).
After you’ve taken care of the technical aspects of the layout, resolution, format and color your next goal is actually creating the design. Most designs for paperback, hardbacks and dust jackets are created in one piece with the back page on the left leading into the spine (in the center) and front page on the right. Your artwork should normally start with the focus upon the front page (right hand side of the complete layout) and then drawing off through the spine and in to the back page upon the left.
Designing a spine and back page from just the front cover takes creativity, get it right and your viewers will assume that the book cover was designed as one piece from the beginning, get it wrong and it will look disjointed, unprofessional and even confusing, it’s worth taking time and giving it the respect it deserves.
So for most authors this transition from eBook to printed paperback marks a significant steppingstone in their careers as published writers, having a hardcopy of your book certainly makes it easier at book fairs and signings too. It should also be a proud moment and one which is a pleasure to achieve, seeing your book in print for the first time always brings a smile to the face.
Along with getting a professional and effective book cover design the next element which any author should be focusing upon are the materials used to help promote their book to a wider audience, if you are an indie author however, you’ll be well aware that the book’s promotion and exposure will be down to you completely, so it pays to consider how your book will be represented.
This should be considered as early as possible even as you’re in the process of writing the first couple of chapters, most authors will start with a ‘slow-trickle’ approach to the promotion of their book building the awareness of the title and its future release. What it isn’t about is ‘spamming’ followers on social media or excessive comments (packed with links) on others blogs, again, this is a slow tickle to generate genuine interest.
With that in mind we have to look at the type of content which you are posting, when it comes to the use of Twitter and Facebook then you should be using something visual to grab the attention of the reader, it’s also worth taking into consideration that both social media streams get inundated with updates very quickly so you will only have a small window to catch your viewers eye.
Using a small digital poster to update your followers will allow you to stand out in the crowd, on top of this it helps to cement your standing as a professional author too. Digital posters and banner ads should be based around the design of your book cover, however, if you’re starting the process early then you may not even have a book cover designed yet, but don’t let this stop you.
Without a cover your promotional banner/ad should take elements from with the book itself, it should make the viewer aware of the book’s overall concept and theme, you want the banner/ad to be memorable and eye-catching but without becoming too busy or crowded.
The size of your banner/ad is also very important, most of the social media streams will only show a portion of a larger image so sizing the poster to the smaller ‘what’s seen’ size will ensure that the reader gets the message. You have to be realistic and understand that most ads never get clicked on (to open up for the full message), so it’s here where you need to make it readable in an instant.
So along with the images and designs which you’ll use on social media you should consider what images you’ll use within your website or blog.
Again, banners and ads will really help and you’ll also have the advantage of being able to control the size and placement of the designs too, the use of 3D renderings of your book is also important as it shows your book as a tangible product. For the 3D elements then there are several ways to showcase your book, you’ll want to show the book as a paperback, hardback and even upon the screen of a tablet to represent the eBook version.
But along with the images of your actual book it is still good to use some elements from within the book itself, these can become backgrounds or headers/footers to the pages of your site or blog, it all adds to the overall perception that your readers will have of you, again, you want this to accurately reflect the professionalism and creativity of your book and writing skills.
As with any plan (be it a business or the promotion of a book) the earlier you can start the better, you should be planning to start your promotional campaign from the moment you put pen to paper. Now this can of course can be easier said than done (especially if your using a working title which may alter over the course of writing the book), but the theme will remain the same and this still gives you great scope for making the public aware.
Using social media is now one of the most popular ways to get the message of your book out, from the beginning you should be able to make posts which hint at your new masterpiece and spark interest, however, this is a balancing act at times, too many posts turn off your audience (you become viewed as nothing more than a spammer), so keep it to several per day across your channels.
As your book gets closer to completion you should be planning the cover and beginning to increase your promotional campaign, any great book cover designer will able to work with you in preparing your design ready for its edit and possible page count alterations, they should also be able to help in your promotional materials such as banners, posters and 3D product images.
Once you have your book cover designed you should start to use this within your promotional posts and online interactions (as well as off line ones), it may be several months before your book is live but you’re still looking at getting the message across on a consistent basis.
Having product images of your book in several guises helps to make it feel more tangible to your viewer, images of the book as a paperback, hardback and even upon the screen of a tablet will help to showcase your work as a professional publication. You can then incorporate these images into posters, business cards, banners and your website or blog.
Advertising your book early, professionally and consistently will ensure that more people see your work and that it is taken seriously, more importantly, a well thought out approach to the promotion of your book will ensure success and sales.
The book cover design that you choose for your new (or even existing book) will have more than just an aesthetic effect, as most of us are aware, the first impression that you or your book give to anyone else will either lead to approval or rejection.
So why do some authors still take a gamble by fronting their work with a badly made design? This is a question that everyone who works within the publishing industry still shakes their heads at, when you consider the sheer volume of new titles which are released each and every day (not to mention the hard work that went into writing your book), you have to wonder why anyone wouldn’t take their book’s representation seriously.
Some authors will also go down the DIY path and give book design a go themselves, in fairness there are some good examples out there but far more bad ones unfortunately, whether this is done to micro-manage every aspect of the publication or simply to try and save money, the point is that your book gets represented unfairly, when people see an unprofessional design the same assumption is made about the pages within.
Getting a book cover designed by a professional is easier than you may have thought and the costs involved are far lower too, book designers will always have a website where you can view their current portfolio, prices and the easiest ways in which to get in contact with them. You can always look at books in stores to view who created their covers too (check on the acknowledgements/credits page), just remember that many of the biggest publishers use ‘in-house’ designers and so you won’t be able to use those.
For some publishers the use of a template is very common place too, you simply input the details of your book’s chosen trim size, paper color, interior color, binding type, page count and (in some cases) ISBN, the template is then created and available to download ready for use.
It’s also worth considering the systems and software that you’ll be using to create your book cover, for most professionals the use of Adobe is a very popular choice (and far more accessible these days than it has ever been), they make the layout of your book cover far more precise and interchangeable between software packages, if you design artwork in Photoshop then ‘place’ it into your design within InDesign, any changes you make in PS will be updated in ID with the click of a button.
What InDesign also does very well is in enabling you to alter the design when the page count changes, if you have based the layout of your book cover upon a template then that’s great as long as your page count stays the same, but if it alters (as it normally does) then you will need to alter the width of the spine. In InDesign you are able to adjust the spine (or Gutter) very easily along with the overall dimensions of the book’s trim size, again, you can also go back to Photoshop at the same time to alter the artwork to line up with the spine too.
One of the many reasons will be to make their product stand out to the buyer, this is in a market place where choice is king and (via the internet) where a consumer has countless buying options at their finger-tips. But standing out for any reason simply isn’t enough, you need to be able to present an idea in a fashion which will relate to your target audience (and yes your book will have a target audience too).
A target audience is something that a few authors make the mistake of not considering when launching their book, if you make the assumption that the book is for ‘every reader’ then it will cost you sales. It can be hard to think about but the fact is that not everyone will like your book. And this is a good thing, understanding that your work will appeal to some more than others will enable you to target those who are more likely to buy it.
Once you have considered who will be reading your book the book cover design and advertising will become more focused and effective, it goes without saying that certain design styles are expected for specific genres of book, for example, if your book is aimed at younger children then it’s more likely that the cover will contain brighter imagery and illustrations, as opposed to horror fiction which will of course be a lot darker.
So there are expected styles for specific genres, all done to help the buyer understand (in a split second) what the book is about and if it will appeal to their tastes, however, there are always exceptions to any rules and these boundaries are always being pushed by designers. The key point is that the cover design you choose to represent your book works in delivering a message, connects to the reader and represents your manuscript professionally.
If you already have a book published how do you know if your cover is working for you? This can be a thorny subject for some authors (especially if they created the cover design themselves), realistically there is only one way and that’s in getting honest feedback. Family and friends may not be the best option here either, ideally you need an unbiased perspective upon your cover, we’d always recommend writer’s groups and some forums to ask but speaking to a professional is always a good option. Getting in contact with designers can work as long as you’re honest with them, if you are not in the market place to buy a new design let them know (but don’t waste their time – most designers are busy people too).
It is of course best to start off with a professional design made for you (and they are far more reasonable than you may realize too), launching with a great cover and some advertising materials will enable you to launch your book professionally, it sets out your position as a serious author and that your book is in the same league as those from the exclusive publishing houses.
Getting the best from your book cover designer is all about working in partnership with them, from a designer’s perspective any work that is produced goes on to not only represent your book but also the identity and standard of the designer too.
So when it comes to the choice of your designer and then the process of working with them there are several things that you should take in to consideration, budget can be one of the first questions which springs to mind and having a discussion with your designer from the start of the project is always advisable. You should ask about the total cost and dig deeper as to if they charge for images, hourly rates and also extra fees for any revisions.
If your designer doesn’t advertise their fees (and not everyone does) then they should be willing to give you a quote based around your exact needs along with scope for any variation, most authors will be working to a certain budget and your designer should understand this too. As a professional book cover designed for print can cost the author anything up to $1000, it’s best to be aware from the very beginning and have no surprises.
Once you have found a designer which fits your budget you should ensure that you are happy with their style of design, now most designers will accommodate a wide client base and use different designers within their team to ensure they can create for multiple genres, but you may see a specific style of work throughout their portfolio, for example, if they are illustrators only and you need a book cover for a gritty thriller then it may be wise to keep looking.
Looking through their portfolio will give you a good idea as to how expert they are and also their experience, another way to see this is by looking for reviews (both on and off of their website) and also checking their social media pages, you would expect to find a decent amount of history and followers too.
Getting in touch with your selected designer should be easy, most websites will either have a direct email address or a form for you to fill in, personally speaking you shouldn’t really have to wait anything longer than 48 hours to get a response (but do take weekends into account).
In your email to them try to be specific about your needs for the book, what style of cover you’re looking for and how far along the editing process you are too (it helps the designer judge where in the process you are). The more information you can give the more specific they can be when getting back in touch with you.
From here you should next expect to pay a deposit to secure the project, this can be anywhere from 15% up to 50% and would be non-refundable (your designer will put many hours of work into your drafts alone).
The designer will then look to get as much detailed information about your book and your needs as the author from you as possible, they’ll either speak over the phone or send out a briefing form, most designers prefer to use a briefing form or emails as it creates a more detailed account which they can easily refer to throughout the design process.
They key element is to keep in touch and make your designer aware of any changes to your book (especially page count changes), you may find that your blurb alters too and so communicating this in a timely fashion will ensure that your cover gets updated correctly.
Getting a professional book cover designed is an exciting process to be involved with, it’s where the face of your book is created along with materials to help sell it to your readers, it should be fun and give you the inspiration ready for your launch.
The act of writing a book is something that a great many people have started but few have actually finished, let’s face it, there must be countless pages of half written novels which will never see the light of day, and this is a real shame. The next J.K. Rowling, Steven King or even Charles Dickens are still doing their day jobs unaware of what could have been, and for us (the audience), well, we’ve missed out on a novel which might just have change the way we look at life (or at the very least entertained us).
So why do so many people start but only make it halfway through writing their masterpiece? The honest answer is that it’s a great deal harder than the average person may realize, the writers which you may see in films and on TV give an impression of a romantic lifestyle which leaves out the actual hard work that goes into the process.
You’ll also see an increase of writing towards the start of the year (as per the increase of gym memberships), where we all make new year’s resolutions to write the novel which is within (the saying goes that we all have one). And in a similar fashion to a first work out, our over enthusiasm ends up making us write like crazy for a couple of weeks until we end up putting ourselves off and find reasons as to why we’ll put it on the ‘back-burner’ for a couple of days, weeks, months, years until we forget all about it.
If you scan the internet there are plenty of blogs telling you that you can also make a fast buck by writing a novel, and for some authors writing does become a lucrative career which they can work at full time. However, if you only approach the task of writing from a financial angle then you will find the process a lot tougher, those who write from a place of passion and love for their craft will always be at an advantage.
So, if you have the desire to start writing a book, what should you do next?
Well, the writing and creative process will vary from author to author but there are some elements which will always be the same (or very similar), the first will be your idea and how well you have planned it out. Developing your story and having a clear understanding of the location, timeframe, characters and their relationships to each other and the dynamics of the story will ensure a professional book.
Planning is key, not only for the story but also for how and when you’ll actually write the book, as mentioned earlier, it’s very easy to try and write too much within the first few weeks (which ends up pitting you off). From day one you need to be realistic with how much time you can actually spend writing, and think long-term too, if you work a full time job or have other commitments which take up the majority of your day then plan how much free time you have.
Writing for 30mins every other day is better than trying to spend two solid hours on every Sunday, if you give yourself smaller writing times you’re more likely stick to them and produce writing of a higher caliber too.
Plan where you’re going to write, it’s obvious to say that you want as few distractions around you as possible, if you have a spare room set it up as your office (for the purposes of writing anyway), if you don’t, then a kitchen table will work fine too, just make sure that anyone else in the house is aware of what you’re doing and not to distract you.
Switch off Facebook, Twitter and any other social media channels whilst you’re writing and also keep your internet usage to just research, you’ll have plenty of time for this once you put your planed writing time in.
Writing a great book which means something to you should be an enjoyable process, but don’t worry about time frames too much (this is easy for an indie author), if you need to take twelve months to create your book then do so, if you need twenty-four then take twenty-four, your attention to detail will lead to a brilliant novel the more focused you are.
For an author there are many choices when it comes to the publication of your book, but the two most popular (and most compared) tend to be Createspace and Ingram Spark, whilst Createspace is many author’s first choice, Ingram Spark does have a lot to offer and it can be wise to even go with both when publishing.
Now this may seem like a bigger task to many, however, going down this path of using two printing services does have its advantages, of course you’ll want to publish with Createspace because they are owned by Amazon (where 60% of books and eBooks are currently being sold). But by using Ingram Spark (Lightning Source) at the same time you’ll make your book available in most of the ‘Bricks & Mortar’ stores too, admittedly they may have to order it in for your reader (or purchase from their website), but they distribute to over 39,000 independent stores and all of the major players on line including iBookstore, Kobo and Barnes & Noble Nook.
So how do the costs line up between them both:
(Based on B&W and Color book as paperback at 6 x 9, cream, perfect bound, gloss with 300 pages)
The ease of use between the two is the main sticking point for many authors, Createspace is without doubt the easier system to use and you can normally have your manuscript uploaded along with its book cover in an hour or so. Ingram Spark has just recently undergone a major facelift to its website but there is still a bigger learning curve to the process in comparison.
From a book cover design perspective there are major differences between the two publishers, with Createspace their system allows for the use of the RGB color model which allows for richer colors, whereas Ingram Spark will require not only the use of CMYK (which is more commonplace within printing) but the limiting of ink levels down to 240% (across all four channels of CMYK), this can lead to a more muted finish to the book cover and needs to be taken into account when designing the cover itself, however, the finish and quality of Ingram Spark is excellent.
With the ISBN of your book Createspace will provide you one for free, but they will be listed as the publisher of record and you’ll not be able to use it anywhere else, Ingram Spark doesn’t offer ISBNs so your best option will be to go direct to either Neilson or Bowker to purchase your own ISBN independently, this will enable you to use both services (remember you’ll need one for the printed and one for the eBook), an ISBN costs $125 for one or $295 for 10.
So what should you do? Well it depends on how much you’re going to invest into the launch of your book and how seriously you’ll be promoting it, CS does offer a very reasonable entry point for any author and being that its owned by Amazon you’ll have your book available to a very large online audience. However, if you want to get actual printed copies and hardback versions (something that CS doesn’t currently offer) into book stores and other online channels then Ingram is a better option but you will spend more in the set up. If you’re able to, using both services will ensure that you cover all bases, again, this is down to how seriously you want to promote your book.
Getting a great book cover to fully represent your work is more than just a vanity project for any author, it has become a necessity, the reason why is the explosion in books being published. There are on average between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books being published every year in the US alone, reports also show that 350,000 approx. are from self-publishing authors too.
This breaks down to 2,100 books a day being published (and about 1,000 being from Indie authors too).
You need to appreciate that from day one you will have a great deal of competition, but don’t panic, there are a lot of things that you can do to ensure that your works floats to the top of the pile and attracts the readers (and sales) that it deserves.
The first thing that any book marketer will tell you is to start early, the sooner you can get the ball rolling on your marketing the better, it should be viewed in the same way that a small business views its own marketing and growth plan (this may seem alien to a lot of authors, but taking a pragmatic approach to the successful launch and promotion of your book will ensure a higher chance of success in a clearly saturated market).
Ensuring you stand out within the crowd is vital, that’s why an early start gives you time to build momentum, it’s important that any author understands this and that they think about their marketing strategy from the moment they actually start the book itself. Again, this may seem like overkill but with over 2,000 books being published every day you have to be organized.
There are key elements that any author will need when marketing their up and coming book, some of the bigger ones on your list will be your website, social media feeds, blog, author media pack, professional book cover design, marketing materials, formatting, editing and securing reviews/testimonials.
This may seem a lot to organize, but starting early will give you time to plan and budget for all of them accordingly.
Your digital footprint as an author has become a major element in both self-promotion and the actual sales of your book too, with some authors becoming their own distributors of the physical copies along with eBooks. Your website can become the hub for you to both sell and promote future releases to your readers, gathering and maintaining a mailing list will help you here.
Along with a website, social media will play a constructive role within the promotional aspect of your publication, however, just like publishing it has become saturated with a great deal of spam. Blatant posts which simply say ‘Buy My Book’ (or words to that effect) will have people un-following you very quickly indeed, engaging with your followers is a two-way thing and needs to be remembered whilst you’re actively promoting. So get involved with discussions, chat, like, retweet and enjoy, it can be great fun and you’ll learn a thing or two along the way.
The book cover you choose will also play a major role in how your book is perceived and if a reader will want to pick it up (or click upon the icon), do not fool yourself, people judge books (and pretty much everything else) by the way it looks initially. The job of your cover will be to grab the reader’s eye and in a split second tell them if your book is worth taking seriously.
When working with a designer be open to their suggestions (after all, you’re paying for their skills, so get the most from them), of course every author will have ideas as to what they’d like to see upon the cover, but your designer will know how to best lay them out and also the best way to create impact for you.
Working together you will be able to get a great book cover design which will relate well to your audience.
Once you have a professional book cover you should strongly consider the other promotional elements which will help your work stand out, these are things like banners for your social media sites, 3D renderings of your book (which look great upon your own site or within posts), posters and bookmarks for fairs and launches and even t-shirts and business cards, all of these things can give you the edge and help you stand out.
So in this over-saturated market of several thousand books a day being launched, your approach to the book cover and marketing has never been more important, take it seriously and start early!
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