Book Cover Design: DIY

Previously we discussed two possible options when it comes to book cover design for your self-published book. The first option proposed was the DIY option, where you design the cover yourself. This option is more complicated and time consuming than hiring a designer to create a book cover for you. While it certainly isn’t impossible to create a great cover yourself, it is probably best to steer clear of this option if you have never dabbled in any kind of design at all or if you’re unwilling to spend time doing research. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive into the DIY option. 

Step One: Brainstorm Ideas for Your Book Cover Design

The first step is brainstorming ideas for what your cover should look like. You may have a strong idea already or you may be entirely clueless. Either way, I urge you to take time and study other book cover designs of best-sellers that specifically match the genre or tone of your book. If you wrote a murder-mystery thriller, look at other books that are traditionally published within that genre.

Angel Wings Book Cover DesignPay attention to the general style of fonts used, the color palette, and the overall feel. These will vary widely between book subjects. A self-help book cover will be different from those of romance novels. Even if you do have a strong idea of what you’d like to present on the cover, take into consideration what other novels are doing. Remember, the main point of the cover is to bring in an audience that wants to read what’s inside. Your cover needs to quickly convey what kind of book it is through its visual language.

Step Two: Find a Graphics Program

The second step is finding and familiarizing yourself with a graphics program that suits your skill-level and needs. If you have access to Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, then those are the preferred industry standard for designing graphics and you should be all set. However, these can be expensive options for a single project. It is worth considering other options, since there are many programs out there that are cheaper or, better yet, completely free! 

If you have experience with design and using image editing software, try programs like Clip Studio Paint, GIMP, Procreate, or Krita. You may need to supplement these programs with things like stock photos or fonts. However, you need to keep an eye on their usage rights.  

If you’re less experienced with design, it might be preferable to choose a program that comes pre-loaded with tons of templates, fonts, and stock images that make designing a cover less of a headache. Try programs like Canva, Adobe Spark, BookBrush, or Placeit. These are only a few of the available options and a quick search will lead you down the path to finding the best fit for you.  

However, most of these programs, aside from InDesign, are not suited for typesetting. If you’re planning on working with the interior of your book yourself as well, InDesign may be worth the investment.

Step Three: Consult with Your Publishing Platform

Doug Wood Book Cover DesignOnce you’ve come up with the idea for a design that is both aesthetically appealing and tells people about your book at a glance and you have a program of choice that you plan to use to bring it to life, it is important to consult with your publishing platform. Wherever you choose to publish and sell your book from, whether it’s solely digital or from a print-on-demand publisher, these platforms usually have specifications that you will need to follow concerning image dimensions, file size and type, and color profile. Keep these in mind when creating your design. 

Best of luck on your journey designing a brilliant book cover if this seems like the right path for you! However, if all of that was entirely overwhelming and you’re considering exploring the second option of hiring a designer instead, we will be talking about that in-depth soon as well!   

How to Organize a Virtual Event

Thanks to the pandemic, we as a society have figured out ways to make nearly everything virtual: school, doctor’s appointments, business meetings, even fashion shows. You name it, there’s a Zoom link for it.

Shifting into the online world, virtual events have become more popular than ever. But here’s the question: how do you plan one?

No matter the occasion, here’s our 8-step guide on organizing the perfect virtual event.

Step #1: Create Your Guest List

Like any party, start by creating a guest list. How many people would you like to invite? Will it be a small gathering or a larger one? Formulate a rough list, and if you’re unsure about the size, err on the upper end of your estimate.

Step #2: Gather Attendee Contact Information

Will you be sending a physical invitation, an evite, or both? Once you’ve established how you’re going to invite people to your event, make sure you have attendee email addresses and/or home addresses. Organization is key.

Step #3: Flesh Out the Details

This portion of your party planning can be time-consuming, but incredibly important. When is the event going to happen? What time? Will there be any special guests? Swag bags? Speeches? Make sure you know how you want everything to run as it will inform what goes on the actual invitation.

Step #4: Design an Invitation

As mentioned above, this could be an evite, a physical invite, and/or a simple email. Be sure to outline the date, timing, and exactly what you’re going to do in that amount of time. For example:

Step #5: Generate a Running List of RSVPs

Be sure to document who will be in attendance, their email addresses (so you can send the Zoom link), and/or home addresses if you’re sending physical invitations and swag bags. Once again, staying organized is the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Step #6: Select a Hosting Platform

At this point, you’ve solidified a date, a time, and a guest list. Now it’s time to select a hosting platform so you can generate a link for attendees to tune into the day of the event. Whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Zoho, or any of the other video conferencing platforms currently out there, be sure to do your research as you may need to purchase a specific plan depending on the number of people who will be in attendance.

Step #7: Send the Link

The key here is to not send the event link out too early as your email can get lost in your attendees’ inboxes. We recommend sending it out a day or two before the event.

Step #8: Enjoy the Party!

Although most of us wish we could be hosting people in person, a virtual event is still a great excuse to get dressed up, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy catching up with friends and family. Have fun!

For more tips and tricks, check out more of our latest blogs.

Designing a Book Cover: DIY vs Hiring for Self-publishing Authors

If you’re familiar with the concept of self-publishing, you’re also probably familiar with some of its criticisms. It’s not uncommon for someone to scoff at a self-published book on sight and label it as unprofessional, or a work in progress- even if that isn’t true at all. If you’re planning to self-publish a book, those kinds of reactions might make you nervous. You most likely don’t want to invoke that kind of disdain from potential readers. So, how do you keep an audience open-minded when they can be predisposed to making assumptions about self-published books? Design a professional book cover.

Designing a Book Cover

The key is to make your self-published book look professional at first glance. The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is great advice when it comes to the metaphor for how we should treat other people, but when it comes to actual books, people do judge them by their covers. That is why it’s so important to get your cover right. In a world where tens of thousands of new books are self-published annually, there’s no faster way for people to make the snap decision to swipe left or right. Your book cover’s quality needs to reflect the quality of its contents, so you can attract the audience who will enjoy all of your hard work.

When you begin thinking about your cover, there are essentially two options: you can give yourself a DIY project or you can hire a designer to make the cover for you.

You may know yourself well enough to already have an idea of which one will suit you better, but there are pros and cons to both when you’re considering your options for designing a book cover. This is just a quick and dirty guide to helping you make the initial choice.

The DIY Option

This option is more complex. You will need to find a graphics program that suits you- there are plenty out there that are low-cost or free. Some web-based services even provide premade templates to follow that can make the process simpler. Making your own cover will involve a lot more of your time. You will need to handle all of the steps from doing the initial design thumbnails to formatting the image properly for print. On top of that, these things will require research, especially if you’re a total newcomer to digital design. However, there is a positive side- the result will be a lot more cost-effective and it is completely customizable. If you have a strong vision for what you want your cover to be and are willing to do the legwork, this could be a very rewarding option.

Hiring a Designer

The initial step for this option might take a little time, but once you’ve found a designer that fits your budget and style, the rest of the work will fall on them and you can focus on other things. All you need to do is message them, discussing the project and their rates, until you find someone who meets your needs for designing a book cover. Expect to pay a minimum of $750 for an original design that doesn’t follow a template or use stock photos. Despite the downside of being more expensive, this option can save time and stress, leaving you with a more professional, eye-catching book. 

If one of these options interests, you- great! We’ll be going more in-depth into both of them in future blog posts, so keep an eye on this space! Until then, please check out our Not-so-Sexy Side of Book Publishing blog to learn about the technical parts of publishing that will help prevent you from missing out on opportunities. 

Personal Branding on Social Media: 5 Twitter Features Explained

As of May 2020, Twitter had 340 million users. As a microblogging platform, Twitter is particularly beneficial for showcasing your personal brand through your interests, personality, and content. There are several Twitter features you can leverage to help build your personal brand. 

#1 Tweets

Tweets are short microblogs that can contain images, videos, text, and/or GIFs. They appear both in the sender’s timeline and homepage as well as the sender’s followers’ home pages. 

#2 Fleets — A new Twitter feature

Fleets are a place to share momentary thoughts that do not necessarily need to be added to your permanent Twitter presence. Think Instagram stories. Fleets appear at the top of your followers’ page. People can also view your Fleets by clicking on your profile picture. 

#3 Moments

Moments are longer form pieces of content that can be curated from your tweets and the tweets of others. Use Moments to tell a story about something that is happening in real time or curating tips.

#4 Lists

On Twitter, you can create lists to follow accounts that are similar or experts in a field you are interested in. These lists can be private or public. Private lists don’t notify people that you add to a list — which makes them great for social listening and competitor research. If you create a public Twitter list, other users can find and follow it. 

#5 Revue — a new Twitter feature

Twitter recently acquired Revue and have launched an initiative to allow Twitter users to create their own newsletters for free. One unique aspect of this new feature is that you can create paid newsletters — although there is a fee for those. 

If you determine your purpose and define your target audience, these features can help you develop a strong personal brand on Twitter. 

If you found this blog post helpful and would like to learn more about leveraging social media for personal branding, check out Personal Branding on Social Media: 3 Tips for Instagram. 

 

Finding the Best Way to Sell Your Book: Non-Fiction

Academics, experts, spokespeople, business owners–many of them publish non-fiction books.  To look at these books as one giant group of promotable content packs is to ignore the fact that there is likely a “best way” to sell your book.  There is not a set of “book media” who generically cover anything that is made between paper covers.  And there is no giant pool of people who are awaiting the next “book”.  There is much more to the story.  How the book is structured and what it is about will determine how you sell it.  Some books are idea driven, others are more “how-to” focused.  Some are both.  Do you know which one applies to you?

Selling Ideas

Is it an idea book, a how-to or both?  It is one thing to pitch a mystery novel or a book on weight loss.  It is an entirely different approach if what you want to sell is a new concept or a new spin on something we all know.  Let’s break it down with one of the more difficult “idea” categories using some of my favorite tools from economics class.

Faux Title Study I: Selling The How-to Book

Dominating the Widget Market for Investors”

Let’s say you are publicizing a book about investing in the widget market.  Your book describes the market, it’s history, sample strategies, tips, potential outcomes, etc.  It is a prescriptive book that can help people make money from widgets, and in general help them learn more about the stock market.

You would likely employ a strategy that included:

  • a “top ten strategies/tips” list
  • soliciting radio interviews
  • pitching long lead magazines and soft financial publications for the average investor,
  • trying to get on a morning TV show or other talk show that features self-improvement topics
  • outreach to digital networks about making money in the market

With this book you have a clear direction and advice you can impart.  You are also directing your message to digital and traditional communities that want to know how to improve their financial situations. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin.

Faux Title Study 2: Selling The Big Idea Book

“Dominating the Widget Market in a Changing World”

This book is similar to the first in that the author talks about the market and history of the widget industry.  He will also probably share some case studies of investors both successful and unsuccessful as a way of illustrating the changes.  Theories of the future of widgets and why things are or are not improving will be in the book.  The conclusion may be more gray than black/white and the author will present a picture of what things are going to look like.  He may also suggest ways we might adjust to allow for a more (or less) volatile environment.

What Makes These Books Different?

I’m sure you are getting where I am going with this.  Title 1 is a clearer “how-to” offering whereas Title 2 is based on a hypothesis and theory based on research and/or data.  There may be some takeaways that suggest what to do, but they will be implied rather than listed as “tips”.

Clearly these are simplistic examples, but I run into this all the time.  The thing is, we almost always want to try to promote the theory the same way we would promote the prescriptive, and it just doesn’t work.  First of all, authors who are writing about theory usually have a combination of academic and applied credentials.  They generally don’t want to give people “advice”.  The kind of interview where “tips” are the goal is often awkward for this kind of person.

The other author loves giving workshops and presentations about how to do things better. For her topic, how we got here isn’t as important as what we are going to do about it.

It is challenging to make these distinctions, but it is important.  If you do, you will be much more focused.  You will see your path to selling your ideas and achieving your goals.