Notes for Authors & Featured Editors

I jotted down these notes during a training I was listening too (note: not 100% sure where it came from but looks like it could be helpful to anyone who is an author or editor!)

Email your article to the featured editor of the chosen publication.

Follow up with a fax on day 2.

Leave voicemail after hours on day 2 (note: yes, this is the same day that you faxed).

Email reminder on day 4.

This is the process you will use to try and get your article featured and not just put to the bottom of the stack. Wish you best of luck!

To Your Success!

How to Self-Publish Your Own Book – Lesson 5: Profit-Generating Strategies For Your Book

While there has to be a concerted marketing and publicity campaign once your book has been published, activities to promote your book should begin even before it has been released. In fact, along with planning on the content for your book, you should also plan for the promotion of your book. You need to have a clear understanding of the market that exists for the book you are about to write and how you can maximize the exposure in that market.

Before you started writing your book you may have carried out a preliminary market research to find out who your readers are going to be. Once the writing of the book is done and as you are waiting for it to be published, you need to start taking steps to reach out to your target market. How will you tell them what your book is about so that it generates instant interest, why do you think it will prove to be helpful, what motivated you to write it in the first place and most importantly, why do you think they should spend money to buy your book.

You can now do all the above through a combination of strategies, some traditional and some non-traditional, but all aimed at generating profits for you.

  1. Have an online presence.

    In the present day and age, you simply cannot do without an Internet presence. Have a professionally designed website for your book (this could be part of your publishing company website or an independent one just for the book) that effectively showcases your book, talks about you as an expert author, highlights the cover, discusses the main points in the book, provides reviews and testimonials and of course, has a place where one can purchase the book online. Remember the website needs not to be elaborate or extravagant; a website with complete information is far more effective in attracting customers than an expensive one with incomplete or confusing information. You could also consider having an online media room as part of this website.

  2. Gather marketing and promotional ideas.

    You can gather a group of friends and family members who have taken an interest in your project to brainstorm marketing ideas. You could seek their help in understanding various groups of prospective readers and possible places where you could find them. Ask your friends to list as many places as possible – where do they shop, have lunch, meet for coffee; what kind of organizations could they belong to; what kind of jobs might they have and what kind of hobbies. Use a spreadsheet to note all this down. At the end of the discussion, you will have a very comprehensive view of where you are most likely to find your prospective readers.

  3. Submit online articles.

    Your book probably is a goldmine of ideas. You can write up a short article on each one of these points and submit it to publications that cater to your target audience. Have a short blurb about you and what motivated you to write the book. This will appear at the end of each article.

  4. Participate in book fairs.

    Book fairs are a great way to get in touch personally with prospective readers. You can speak to them directly about what made you write the book and why you believe people will find it useful. It is possible that many people will be moved by your conviction and make outright purchases.

  5. Give free presentations and seminars.

    In order to increase the visibility of your book, you may want to give free presentations or seminars at local bookstores or libraries. You will be able to give the bookseller some added publicity, connect directly with prospective readers and also enhance your reputation as an expert in the field of your knowledge.  However, you have to ensure that you are comfortable speaking before a group of people. If not, hire a speaking coach for a few months to get used to speaking before crowds.

  6. Have a press kit ready at all times.

    As soon as your book is ready to be released, you should also have a press kit ready with it. This will typically contain a news release with relevant information about the book and the author, favorable testimonials and reviews, sample book cover and upcoming appearances. This will at least help you get a foot in the door of local TV and radio stations and will make local publications take notice.

We hope that through this blog series you have found the information and guidance you needed to self-publish your own book successfully. We also hope that you will treat it as a useful reference even as you write, publish and market future books.

How to Self-Publish Your Own Book – Lesson 4: Generating the Buzz About Your Book

Once you have your book ready, the next step naturally is to market your book so that more and more people come to know about your book. However, there are some unique challenges that a self-published author might face and to counter them you might want to use a combination of both traditional and non-traditional forms of marketing.  Let us look at some marketing strategies that will help you market your book as well as a major publishing house.

  • Most self-published authors believe that the traditional, brick-and-mortar stores are the first places to start. This is no longer true. You not only have to provide heavy discounts and deal with substantial number of returns, bookstores do not show you any flexibility in pricing. Further, you will be facing stiff competition from other authors in your genre. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For self-published authors, there are some additional problems as well. If this is your first book, chances are you are going to find it very hard to get a good distributor. And without a distributor, no bookstore will be willing to carry your title. It has also been observed that bookstores, especially major chains, show a very step-motherly attitude towards self-published books – not giving them enough visibility, showing a lack of enthusiasm for arranging book signings and not maintaining reasonable inventory levels – thereby dooming your chances before you even began. Fortunately for you there are other opportunities in the market that are more open and friendlier to self-published authors and which may actually make you more profits than the traditional bookstores. Try and establish a reputation before you try to approach the difficult brick-and-mortar market.
  • Every year more and more customers are turning to online bookstores to browse through books and make purchases. As such they offer a perfect opening for self-published authors by leveling the playing field. Your book gets the same kind of ‘shelf placement’ as books from major publishing houses. Many publishing houses are too big and hence too slow in recognizing all the marketing opportunities provided by online bookstores. A self-published author on the other hand, by doing enough research on the Internet may already be aware of these opportunities and hence can acquire quite a head start.
  • Any non-traditional market offers a wonderful opportunity to self-published authors. You should therefore constantly be on the lookout for such markets. Some obvious places are online websites selling books, supermarkets, specialty stores, libraries, book clubs, corporations that gift books to clients and employees and schools. All these places where the author is able to make directs sales offer him or her a distinct advantage – the author is also the one making the sale. As such all the positive things that he or she says about the book will have ring of truth to it and will be more helpful in convincing the customer to make a purchase. These places also offer far better profit margins than traditional markets, greater pricing flexibility and fewer returns. All this makes them a more lucrative alternative than the traditional bookstore market.
  • If you consult a marketing and publicity expert on the best ways and time to market or sell your book, you will be told that the first few months, typically the first six months, are the most crucial since most bookstore sales happen then. This expert might then suggest that you go in for a highly synchronized marketing and publicity campaign so that the maximum amount of advertising, distribution and hence sales can happen right after you have published your book. Again, this may have been true in traditional markets as in bookstores. In non-traditional markets, especially like online bookstores, the process is exactly the opposite. Once you put your book up on the website, it takes time to get people to review your book, compile an advertising package, submit to search engines, track page rankings and work on reciprocal linking. This is also true of other non-traditional markets like specialty stores or discount stores where they have fairly long sales cycles. Considering all this, you should use marketing and publicity strategies that are aimed at a few months after the publishing of the book.
  • The reason for you to step forward and have your book self-published is because you believe strongly in it and are convinced that people will find it interesting and of help to them. No one can believe in this as strongly as you do and no one can represent the book in the way you can. It is therefore very crucial that you stay closely involved at all stages of marketing and publicity. If you feel the job is too much for one person to handle, you can certainly hire marketing and publicity professionals. These professionals usually prove helpful in some aspects without doubt – establishing contacts, getting you in touch with distributors and for their knowledge of how to get people in the traditional market to take notice of your book. You are still the main spokesperson for your book and should remain so.
  • One of the most difficult parts of self-publishing is not just getting the contacts or getting bookstores to notice you, it is in getting reviews. Of course, getting a lot of book reviews does not guarantee you any greater level of success. They do however, give you the exposure and visibility that you so badly require and if the reviews are good, it may spur quite a few people to actually go for a purchase. In fact, the difficulty in getting reviews applies equally to self-published works as much as to those printed in the traditional way.

    You must first understand that ever year, thousands of books are being published in the traditional way and counting the self-published ones, there are a few thousand more. You can now see the kind of competition that exists in the publishing market today and you can also see why it is not easy to find book reviewers who will have the time to review your book. Most book reviewers do not have anything against self-published books, but they have to draw the line somewhere and many tend to do so at the self-published book.

    This need not dishearten you completely; true, it is not easy getting a book reviewer to review your book but it is certainly not impossible. Follow our tips below to get a few book reviews – once the reviews are out there, they will be noticed by other reviewers who do not want to be left behind and slowly your book will start receiving the attention you think it deserves.

    • When you send your book to a reviewer you might not want to mention outright that it is self-published. If your book is sufficiently professional looking and comes with a well-packed publicity kit, the reviewer may not know immediately that it is self-published. And that may just be the break you are looking for. It is going to be impossible for you to hide the fact that your book is self-published and eventually the reviewer will find it out. However, by then hopefully the reviewer would have gone through sufficient portions of the book to give it a thumbs-up.
    • You might also want to use a slightly lesser known self-publishing company or just print books with a printer using your own imprint. This will again increase the chances that the reviewer does not know that your book is self-published and may give it a reading.
    • Just because you have a self-published book is no reason for you to not put in efforts towards developing a professional looking press pack. This press pack usually contains standard press materials similar to those sent out by the major publishing companies. If you plan to use your own imprint, put in some thought and effort in designing top-quality stationery with a logo and masthead.  You might want to consider having a postcard that has the picture of the book along with a small blurb on one side of the card and purchase information on the other. All this gives the impression that the author is serious about marketing and selling this product. You should be able to find many service companies in the marketplace that provide these kinds of publicity services including designing logo, stationery and visiting cards.
    • You should also include a professional looking photo of yourself along with a brief bio and a description of the book. Instead of just speaking highly of the book, you may want to write about what motivated you to write the book and then include any reviews that you have received so far – preferably from professional reviewers and not from friends or family.
    • Sending your book to reviewers does involve printing extra copies and then shipping them to the different places. You may have to do this well in advance so that you can get reviews ahead of the release of the book to the general public. It is true that it will cost you extra money to print copes for reviews and to ship them while you are not even sure if the reviewer will read your book. You should remember that this is a necessary investment since even if a small percentage of the books that you send out get read, you would have achieved your objective.
    • The final question then is of where to find people to review your self-published book. The major source is of course, the Internet. Since you will probably be targeting online stores to make your sales, you can even look for reviewers online. For example, every major newspaper or publication has a corresponding website but rather than try at these places, you should approach more contemporary places like literary blogs or other new media sources. There are a large number of literary bloggers divided into various categories and you should be able to select a few from the genre of your book. Get in touch with these bloggers by writing up a short synopsis of the book and giving them information about you. You should certainly mention that yours is a self-published book since bloggers tend to be more sympathetic towards self-published authors. Do not send mass emails to all the bloggers but try to contact and speak to each blogger individually.
  • If you speak to any marketing professional he or she will tell you that for a marketing message to stick, a person needs to hear it at least seven times, or so the cliché goes.  You might wonder how you are going to achieve this at a national level! Many marketers will agree that reaching nationwide markets with your message is not going to be easy but reaching out to the local market may not be as difficult. You can try contacting local news programs to give you some time, contacting local radio shows, speaking to libraries and independent bookstores to keep a copy of your book and asking museums for a chance to speak about your book. You can certainly find different ways in which to spread the word around, at least in the local market.

As you can see if you continue to promote and market your book with conviction and passion, you are bound to find openings in the market and with a bit of luck, you can certainly find yourself creating a self-publishing success story.

How to Self-Publish Your Own Book – Lesson 3: Packaging, Producting and Pricing Your Book

While you may think that writing a book is the toughest part, as a self-publisher there are a few other tough tasks that you need to perform diligently in order to produce a book that looks professional on the inside and outside. This means editing, typesetting and proofreading the manuscript thoroughly, including appropriate illustrations and then working on an attractive cover for your book. Here are a few guidelines on these various aspects.

Polishing Your Manuscript

Your job as a self-publisher does not end with the writing. In fact, once the writing is done, the author in you should step aside and the publisher should take over.

You should first begin by looking at the overall structure of the book. How would the novel read if two chapters were swapped around? Is there sufficient introduction of the characters? Is the novel too serious and does it need some comic relief at a few places? Unlike the common perception, looking at the structure of the book does not merely mean altering a word or two. It is about looking at the entire structure of the book, deciding whether the order of the chapters and the way the story is told can be improved upon. For example, the first chapter could be made stronger or more elaborate to better introduce the characters, the last chapter made more intense and the pace of the story improved.

Once you are happy with the overall structure, you can then begin the painstaking work of fine-tuning every single word of the text. This process requires great self-discipline from you since you might be tempted to cut short the process and take to the printers a manuscript not ready for publication. You must remember that if you were to provide a manuscript to a publishing company, you will be spending hours or weeks in trying to get the manuscript content absolutely right. This, as you would have rightly thought, would greatly increase your chance of getting accepted by the publisher. When you would have taken all this trouble to provide a perfect manuscript to another publisher, there is no reason for you not to do so just because you are self-publishing. It is important to set the same standards for yourself that you would have if you were to have submitted it to another publisher and then strive to reach them.

Typically, when a completed manuscript is sent to a publishing house, they would appoint an editor or in some cases, a team of editors to work on the manuscript. This team will carefully scrutinize each and every word carefully and also brainstorm ideas on how to make the whole manuscript better.  Since you are probably the only editor your company can afford, you have to try and match up to the standards of any publishing house.

While such a mammoth task can indeed be challenging, you can find some easy ways out by speaking to friends and family members. Ask them to read your book, point out errors and make suggestions to help improve the book. If you promise them a free copy of the book and an acknowledgment in the preface, that should be reward enough. You should not worry too much about whether they are well-read and what their knowledge of English is. You do not need an English professor to point out your errors. Most of us are able to quickly identify if a word is missing, has been misspelled or is simply typed twice.

Since a lot of time different people notice different things, print at least five to six copies of your manuscript and hand them over to five or six different people willing to spend some time reading the novel. You will be able to get the feedback from all of them and can make the necessary corrections in your book. Some of the mistakes can be quite obvious and you might be surprised that you did not notice them. You may wonder how they escaped your eyes when you went through the book with a fine toothcomb.  The problem is not that you were not smart enough to pick it up. The problem is that an author while writing is usually already thinking of the next line when his fingers have barely finished the current one. As a result, the current sentence may miss a word or two or misspell the word. When the author, in the role of a publisher is reading it, everything may seem perfect, as the author knows what the sentences are supposed to read like. The errors almost seem invisible! This is where the usefulness of another person reading the manuscript comes in handy.  For them, the missing words or misspelled words almost jump out of the manuscript. If you are unable to find anyone else to read your book for you, you should stay away from the book for a few days, perhaps even a few weeks before returning to work on it. This time, the sequence of the words would not be so strong in your memory and you will be more efficient in picking out mistakes.

If your budget allows for it, you should hire a freelance proofreader. Though they could be expensive, you are more certain to get professional results. A qualified proofreader is trained to pick up even the smallest of mistakes in the manuscript. Contact a local society of editors and proofreaders who will be happy to refer a freelance proofreader for your project.

Of course, nothing beats the ideal combination of having both your friends as well as a freelance professional proofreader go through your manuscript. You can be sure that very few mistakes will slip through.

Illustrating Your Manuscript

Any novel or book looks more interesting if there are illustrations or images to accompany the text. However, having a badly drawn or scanned illustration is worse than not having any illustrations at all. Any illustrative material that you have needs to be scanned so that it can be made available in a digital format.

Of course, you may already have some material ready with you in a digital format like photographs taken with a digital camera. Once the illustrations are available in digital format, they can be easily worked on and can also be placed in the exact location you want using special typesetting software.

Note that it is not necessary to look for a fancy high-end scanner to scan your illustrative material. Even the simplest of scanners nowadays are capable of scanning at high resolutions, producing images of excellent quality. As part of your home business, you might have purchased an all-in-one printer, scanner and copier. Or you might have invested in a stand-alone scanner. Either way, you can be certain of getting good quality scanned images from these scanners.  You should, however, be aware of some very basic rules for scanning and then enhancing the images to be placed in the book.

All images should be scanned at whatever their natural size is, unless of course, they are larger than what the intended page size for your book is. If you are trying to scan a small image and hoping to enlarge it, you need to enhance the resolution accordingly. Similarly, you must avoid compressing the image size wherever possible. Compression techniques were developed a few years back to overcome the difficulty of less hard disk space. Not only was there not enough hard disk space but also it was so expensive that many of us would try to compress files so that we could fit as many files as possible within the available space. Of course, smaller file sizes also meant that the computers could process them more quickly. With huge hard disks being easily available now, the size of the file should not matter. If you are saving the scanned file as a JPEG, make sure you choose the maximum image quality but minimum compression. Lower the compression, higher the quality of the image.

If you are using simple black and white illustrations, you can scan them at 600 dpi and save them as bitmaps. If you have illustrations made using a simple black pen or you are only scanning printed text, they can be reproduced easily with very high quality. Ensure that you save them as TIFF images, which are the best to work with in any typesetting software.

If you are using black and white photos as illustrations, you should scan them at 300 dpi and save them in JPG format with, as mentioned above, minimum compression. On the other hand, color photos and images can be scanned initially in RGB color (at 300 dpi) but will need to be converted into CMYK color mode before they can be saved as JPG files. The reason for this conversion is as follows. Most home scanners are not able to scan a colored image directly into the CMYK color mode. The scanned image will need to be converted from the RGB mode to a CMYK mode using photo-editing software such as Fireworks or Photoshop. Now, any color image can be created with the mixture of three main colors – red, green and blue (RGB) or of four main colors – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).  While computer screens are better suited to displaying the RGB color images, printing presses used CMYK since it gives them much more flexibility in printing color images. Typically, a printing press will use four sources of ink containing CMYK to print high quality color photos or illustrations. It is therefore essential that if you are inserting images to be printed in a printing press, you include images that are in the CMYK mode.

Typesetting Your Manuscript

You will know that you have reached a significant milestone when you reach the typesetting stage. You have meticulously proofread the book, selected illustrations and are now ready to typeset the book. At this stage, you will start transforming your rough manuscript into a polished product. It is truly an exciting moment and is next only to seeing the actually printed version.

Typesetting is not a difficult task and certainly something that you might be able to handle by yourself. However, if you have never done any typesetting before, chances are you will make some very common, avoidable errors as a novice. You are therefore better off hiring a professional typesetter for a couple of your novels and as you watch, you can learn and when you feel you are comfortable you can take up typesetting yourself. Till then, it is safer to hire a professional. Do not be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the process. You may think that most of the work is being done by the software and wonder what the typesetter himself is doing. You are correct to the extent that most of the work is indeed being done by the software – in fact, we would even agree that about eighty percent of the work is being done by the software. However, it is important to realize that the remaining twenty percent of the work is the truly challenging part and can make all the difference between producing a high quality book and one that looks amateurish at best.

If you are keen on typesetting the book yourself, you have to give yourself enough time to be able to learn and then practice using the typesetting software. An experienced typesetter will take about two days to typeset a book and if it does not require any fancy typesetting, one can do it even in a couple of hours. While novels are fairly straightforward, it could take anywhere from five to seven days for a heavily illustrated book. On the other hand, a book that has complex layouts with many illustrations, where the text and images flow in complex patterns, or where each page is different, it would take an experienced typesetter a few weeks to finish typesetting. If you want to try your hand at typesetting, you should know that it will take you about two or three times more time than an experienced professional to do the same job.

Let us see how typesetting makes creating a book so simple. Before typesetting software became the rage, one would create a table of contents as follows. The entire list of chapters would be printed out, the page numbers identified manually and the entire table of contents would be printed out on the top page. Space bar and tab keys would be used to align the table of contents. Or you could write the titles of the chapters one at a time in the table of contents page and make a print out of this page. Again, you would need to write down the page numbers for each title by searching for them on the screen and then go back to typing them out in the table of contents page. The easiest way today is to just choose which chapter you want included in the table of contents by selecting ‘include in table of contents.’ Then go to the table of contents page and just select ‘generate table of contents’ and hey presto, you have a ready table of contents, with titles and page numbers correctly matched.

If you choose to be prudent and decide to hire a professional typesetter or printer, the messy details of typesetting need not be your concern. You can concentrate on making sure that that the pages look professional, attractive and have style reflective of the content of the book.

Before you go for a meeting with a typesetter, you should do adequate research on the kind of layouts that have impressed you. Just as you would go to a hairdresser and request for a celebrity hairstyle with the picture of the celebrity in hand, you should go with some samples of typesetting that you like for them to see. For many, it simplifies the job since they know where they have to start without having to waste too much time experimenting. For others, you are trying to make sure that they go the extra length in ensuring that everything is as you wanted and where you wanted. Explain every detail that you want like special fonts or colors, text effects, decorative borders or boxes of images.

Once you have the final typeset version in hand, you need to make sure that these commonly found errors are not found in your book.

  • Having text too close to the spine – When you are looking at your manuscript, you should think of what it should be like in the final print version. Equal margins on either side of the text may look neat and clean on the computer screen. But what about when the book has to be printed and bound? How will these margins work then? Part of the margin will go into the spine of the book. If the book is bound tightly or you have left very little margin, part of the text may actually go into the binding of the book, making it very difficult to read. Another reality you should be prepared for is that the printer may cut up to 3 mm less or more than what you had requested. If you have left the margins very narrow, some of the text may get cut off. The solution is to always allow a few extra millimeters for the margins that will go next to the binding. Provide enough room on the top and bottom so that excess cutting may still not affect the text.

  • No text justification – All the text in a book is justified text; left-aligned text certainly looks amateurish in a book unless you are doing it as part of a stylistic decision.

  • Too many split words – By having hyphenations you could save space as well as avoid gaps where long words have to go on to the next line. However, if you use hyphens – you may then have line after line ending in hyphenation, with one half of the word on the top line and the other on the second line. A good solution is to turn off hyphenation while typesetting and then turn it on for paragraphs where you notice large gaps on account of a big word having moved on to the next line.

  • Justification problems – While justification is a must in a professional looking book, it does create is own problems. When a piece of text has long words close together, there appear big gaps in the text. The reason is as follows. Justified text is created by changing the gaps between words. When a line contains four big words, there are only three gaps that have to be stretched to complete the line. The result being huge, ugly gaps. You have to be careful to suitably alter such lines.

  • Paragraph indent at the start of the chapter – It is standard convention that the first paragraph of every chapter is aligned flush with the left-hand margin. If there is text next to a picture, it looks more professional if the paragraph has no indent.

  • Double quotation marks – When in school we were instructed by our grammar teachers to always put speech in double quotation marks! It does not work that way in books and if you use double quotation marks, you will reveal that you are an amateur publisher faster than by any other method. Typically nowadays, the only time double quotation marks are used is when a character quotes somebody else’s words. For example: ‘You should have heard what she said,’ said Mariah. ‘She said, ”She did not care”.’ It is therefore essential that you do a thorough search for double quotation marks and then replace them all with a single quotation mark.

  • Huge paragraph indents – Make sure that your paragraph indents are limited to 4 mm. If you are careless about these, your book will certainly look amateurish.

  • Gap between each paragraph – You can certainly typeset your book so that there is no paragraph indent. However, how will the reader know where the paragraph begins and where it ends? The alternative then is to use gaps between the paragraphs. This will increase the number of pages in the book but that does not fool anybody. This is a very common trick used by those who do not have too much content but instead want to pretend to have written a big book. Provide paragraph indents and watch those gaps between paragraphs.

  • Using badly scanned photos or images – If you plan on using illustrations for your book, do not be in a hurry to just scan some photos or images and then put them in your book. You need to consider their relevance to your text and you also need to pay attention to their quality. Consult some photo-editing software guide to help you improve the quality by cropping images, changing brightness or contrast, or perhaps getting rid of the background entirely. Make the images sharper by scanning at the proper dpi and resolution.

  • Orphans and Widows – No, we are not discussing the plot of any new soap opera. Leaving the final line of a paragraph to the next page creates a widow. A line starting at the end of the page but continuing on the next page is an orphan. By paying careful attention to the top and bottom of each page, we can avoid these classic-typesetting errors.

Proofreading Your Typeset Manuscript

While typesetting decides the way the text and images flow in your book, it is also a stage where inadvertent errors often creep in. For example, words may be lost, letters inserted and images may have the wrong caption. Proofreading is a very important stage where you will need to go through the version again, making sure that all errors are caught and rectified.

You therefore need to set aside sufficient time for proofreading your typeset version. The best method is to do this twice: Look through the book once to make sure the layout meets your requirement and that all styles used are consistent. Next, read the book again, this time focusing on the words so that you can catch the errors and make necessary corrections.

Designing the Cover of Your Book

While the typesetting and proof reading processes are important to give your book the professional look it needs in terms of being able to attract prospective customers, the design of your book is also going to play a major role. You may have written an excellent book and worked on an impressive layout but if the cover is drab and does not mention too much about the content, no one will know what an excellent writer you are. On the other hand, if you spend some time working on the design of the cover, come up with something that is stylish and have a brief but well-written blurb that is bound to raise the reader’s interest, there is a chance that a reader attracted by the design and intrigued by the blurb actually decides to buy your book.

Similar to typesetting, many believe that with graphic designing software, they can design a cover for a book. However, one needs a higher level of design and graphic art skills along with a good knowledge of the software. If you want to be sure that you have a professional looking cover, you are better off hiring a professional graphic designer, especially one who has had previous experience designing book covers.

Just as you had done for the typesetting professional, you need to provide a brief to the graphic designer. Mention to them the following:

  • Title and subtitle of the book.
  • Correct name of author.
  • Other text that you want included on the cover.
  • Size of the book.
  • Genre the book belongs to.
  • Quick summary of the underlying theme or ideas in the book.
  • Images that you think should go into the cover.
  • Any other specific demands you may have, like foiling or embossing.
  • Examples of popular books in the same genre.

Any professional will offer you two or three preliminary designs. Once you indicate your preference for a particular design, you can request the designer to perform two or three iterations using different elements and experimenting with the colors and images a little. You may have to go through a few such iterations before you finally find a design that you think is a perfect fit for your body.

As we mentioned above, while hiring a professional graphic designer, you should attempt to hire one that has some previous experience in designing book covers. The designer should know the conventions of various genres and follow them. For example, you will leave the reader confused if you make a novel look like a children’s book or a cookery book look like a novel. When the design of the cover follows established conventions, readers are more comfortable with the design while they are wary of experimental designs. For example, if you are designing the cover for a thriller, you may want to look at some of Dan Brown or John Grisham’s books. While you may not want your book to appear like a look-alike, you may want to choose some of these author’s books as the base upon which you can improve to create your own book design.

You may want to see what kind of fonts, colors, text and image layout the popular books have so that you can get some ideas from them. Also, you want your design to stay current. There is no point in looking at books that were published almost a decade ago. Further, the design of the cover for your book also depends on what current fashion trends are. Typefaces, sizes, placing of titles and the blurb all keep continually changing. Your graphic designer needs to be aware of how to use new fashion trends well for the cover of your book.

Designing is not all the graphic designer needs to be aware of, book designing involves allowing for bleeds, leaving room for the jacket to wrap correctly and placing a bar code. It is best to choose someone who has experience in book production so that you do not lose too much money or efforts with one who knows nothing about book production.

How to Self-Publish Your Own Book – Lesson 2: Getting Started with Self-Publishing

If you are lucky enough to have found a subject you feel passionately about and have already managed to write a book about it, your job is half done. However, not all of us are that lucky. While we may enjoy writing once in a while, posting occasionally on blogs or online forums, writing for a book requires not merely a different kind of writing talent; you also need to determine what you are going to write about.Continue Reading

How to Self-Publish Your Own Book – Lesson 1: Why One Should Consider Self-Publishing

Lainey had worked as an executive assistant at a local software company for the last 15 years. Both her children had received scholarships to good colleges, and Lainey knew that she could now take a break from work. However, she did not want to take a complete break and thought it would be a good idea to work from home as a Virtual Assistant. Lainey was very successful in getting clients who knew her from their previous interactions with her, but soon found that working from home was not as easy and smooth going as she had thought. Gradually, Lainey worked out methods and techniques to get work done at home without distractions and without missing deadlines. She was so successful that she slowly expanded her business and hired people to work as virtual assistants. Her success made many of Lainey’s friends and family members suggest to her that she should write down her experiences as a ‘How To’ guide for those who wanted to start their own virtual assistant business.Continue Reading

How To Market Your Book Before It’s Released

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as an author is to forget about your marketing plan until your book is actually printed. You need to step onto the marketing platform early in the process. Even if you get published traditionally, you must have a marketing platform built, and you’re the one to build it. Marketing your work before it has been published is called pre-marketing, and it’s a great way to ensure that you will sell a lot of copies.Continue Reading

What is an ISBN Number?


Kristen's Video ISBN

 Click here to watch the video, on Kristen’s site: What is an ISBN Number?. Continue Reading

How to Self-Publish a Quality Book

The process of self-publishing your book is not like it used to be. The power of the internet and mass communication has changed everything. Something else that has changed is the fact that most people think they can now use the power of their own home computer to become a professional editor, artist, graphic designer or book formatter. This is a huge mistake that is often made by people who decide to self-publish their work.Continue Reading

Best Tax Tips for Writers – Part 2

It’s Part 2 of our “Tax Tips for Writers” series. And yes, you have every legal right to pay the least amount of taxes required by law! Here are four more tips for you:
1. Paying Taxes
  • Yes, all your income needs to be declared including bartering exchanges. If you give someone one of your products or services in exchange for one of their products or services, you are required by law to declare that as income. If the product or service is worth more than $600, you’ll need to send/receive a 1099.
  • Plan to save a percentage of each payment you receive in a “tax” savings account. I recommend INGDirect for this. In addition to Federal and State Income taxes, you’ll also be responsible for paying the Self-Employment Tax (Social Security and Medicare). When you work for an employer, you’ll notice FICA and Medicare deductions from your paycheck. What you may not know is that your employer is paying the same amount on your behalf. As a self-employed person, you are responsible for both the employer contribution as well as the employee contribution (there are some reductions your tax preparer will handle). That percentage is 15.3% of your profit (not income). Your taxes are required to be paid quarterly.
  • Local Taxes – be sure to find out about these because they want their money too. Our County has a property tax assessment and the next County over has a public transportation tax for the income earned in that County only.Continue Reading