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May 2011

Should You Hire a Book Cover Designer?

Packaging is everything. The bookstore browser spends just eight seconds looking at a book's front cover and fifteen seconds on the back cover. If you don't capture their interest immediately, chances are they will put your book back on the shelf.

Everyone judges a book by its cover. No one reads the book before they make a buying decision. Sales representatives only carry book covers and jackets to show bookstore buyers. Wholesalers and distibutors just want to see the cover copy. The fact is that all book buying decisions are made on the illustration and design, and the sales copy on the outside of the book.

So should you hire a cover designer for your book? Here are some great reasons to say yes.

Book cover designers work with color and type everyday. They know where to place the title and barcode. They not only lay out covers, they work with printers to make sure their design and colors are faithfully reproduced. Cover designers provide more than art - they provide a much needed service. But to gain the most out of your cover designer, here are a couple of ground rules you should follow.

  1. Do not give too much direction. If you do, you run the risk of stifling the creativity you are paying for. Provide only general direction.
  2. Provide a model book you like and tell the artist you want your cover to be classy or rustic or one that says mystery. Let the artist give you his or her best interpretation with just a little input from you.

Since everyone from the distributor, to the wholesaler, to the bookstore buyer, to the ultimate customer, judges a book by its cover, it's imperative that you give them what they need - a compelling cover with art and a sales message that will encourage a positive buying decision. And the best way to do that is to hire a book cover designer.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Successful Nonfiction by Dan Poynter.]

Successful Book Writing - The 10 Most Important Rules to Follow

By George Kittredge

Book1Blog started in March of 2010, and since that time we have published close to 100 articles or posts on various aspects of book writing, publishing and promotion. Combined, these posts offer a wealth of information, guidance and advice from some of the most prominent and successful authors, literary coaches and book writing professionals in the country.

After reading through all of the posts and with acknowledgement to all of our authors and contributors, I have come up with what I believe to be the ten most important rules you need to follow if you want your book to be successful. Here they are:

1. Visit a bookstore. Visiting a bookstore should be your very first step  before you begin writing your book. Looking at other books is a great way to obtain ideas as to what you might like your book to look like - things like cover design, binding style,  page size, your book's length, page layout, pricing, and much more. Finding a published book that can act as a book model is an excellent way to start.

2. Identify your reading audience. Knowing the type of person who should read your book will guide you in both your writing direction and your book's promotion.

3. Have your manuscript proofread by a professional. Avoid producing a book with flaws and errors. Have an outside, professional pair of eyes review your works before your finalize your manuscript.

4. Have your manuscript professionally edited. A professional editor will review your writing to ensure clarity, consistency and professional presentation. They are worth every penny you pay them.

5. Make your book title short and memorable. Follow the leaders. Take a look at the best sellers. Chances are, most of the book titles in this group will be five words or less.

6. Hire a professional book cover designer. People do judge a book by its cover. If it's not professional looking, attractive and eye-catching, chances are no one will even pick it up.

7. Decide whether you want to self-publish your book or hire a book publisher. And once you have made your decision, research to find the right resources.

8. Create a book marketing plan. To be successful, determining a tactical plan for promoting your book and what you can spend are critical. Without a plan, you risk wasting time, energy and money - and increase the probability of limited sales.

9. Look to non-traditional sales channels. The chances are slim that major book chains will promote your book. Depending on what your book is about, seek out potential sales outlets that are not your mainstream bookstores. For example, if you book is a children's book, a small children's toy or clothing store may be a great venue.

10. Promote your book and yourself through a blog and social media platforms. Sharing your thoughts, expertise and even some of your book's content is a great way to become recognized as an expert and connect you and your book with those who share similar interests.

Although following these ten rules will not guarantee your book will be a success, it will help you avoid making mistakes and improve your chances.

[George Kittredge is the creator of Book1Blog, authored and published his own book in 2005, and can be reached by email at georgek@Book1One.com.]

Something You Need to Know Before You Write Your Book

Writing your book is just the beginning - the proverbial tip of the iceberg. A larger investment of time and money must be made once your manuscript is completed. Book promotion is the part of the iceberg that is under the water.

As an author, you have the responsibilities of a parent. Your book is a new member of your family, and it will need your guidance, energy and nurturing to grow successfully.

Books cannot flourish on their own, and it does not matter if you sell your manuscript to a publisher or self-publish it. You, the author, must do the promotion. Book publishers do not  promote books. They may be able to get your book into stores and distribution outlets, and they can list your book in their catalogs and on their websites - but that's it. You must find customers who are interested in your book and get them into the stores, pulling your book through the system.

So how can you do this with, possibly a limited budget?

First of all, watch your money. Do the free and inexpensive promotions first. Use email rather than envelopes and stamps; send copies of your book to book reviewers and stage local speaking engagements, interviews, book signings and mini seminars.

Develop a written promotional plan. Prioritize your ideas, placing the most important ones first. Then work you way through your list. If you have a day job or some other activity that occupies part of your day, it will likely take you longer to get through your list. But you will be secure in the knowledge that (1) you are doing all the right things to promote your book, and (2) you are doing them in the right order.

[This post was created, with permission, from the preface to U-Publish.com 5.0, co-authored by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow.]

Three Great Ways to Give Your Self-Published Book Added Interest and Appeal

Authors are constantly looking for ways to make their self-published books "more interesting and appealing." If you're seeking ways to add some interest to your book, here are three of the most popular ways to do it.

1. Use material from others to support your thoughts and opinions. Be aware that, if you plan to use other authors' materials, you need permission. Prior to publishing the added material, locate and write to the author. Send him or her a copy of what you want to use, ask if you can use the material and (if some time has passed since they published it) if they would say or publish the same thing today. A positive reply provides both permission and a paper-trail. You'll discover that most authors are thrilled to be quoted as long as you give credit in your text.

2. Use quotations. Quotations can add a lot of positives to your book. They can make your text more relevent, your book more important and confirm the suggestions and opinions you are making. Quotations may be sprinkled throughout your text or may be used at the bottom of the pages. They are, however, most effective when placed near the text they are meant to reinforce. Generally, most quotations are not copyrighted, as they are usually too short to be subject to copyright laws - but it still is wise and appropriate to include the quotation's source.

3. Add stories. Readers love stories. These accounts can help readers remember the point(s) you are making and can offer illustration to the information your book is providing. Stories demonstrate that you are writing from experience; that you are an "expert" on the subject. Don't hesitate to ask colleagues for their stories, if what they can offer will be of help to your writings.

Reaching out to others for materials that will enhance your book can result in another benefit as well. By connecting with others who share a similar feeling for your subject matter, you will be expanding your network and making those you connect with aware of the book you are writing.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2, written by Dan Poynter.]

Book Design: What Goes On Your Back Cover?

By guest author Karrie Ross.

Book covers are just one part of the book design process - but a very important part. To begin, ask yourself, "what part does the back cover play in the sale of my book?" It has been said that, "the front cover design brings a reader in, it's the hook...and the back cover sells them. Here is a list of what's needed for the back cover.

  1. Book Category and price: The book category is usually the first line on the back cover. The price can accompany the category listing, but can be place in one of several back cover locations. See what other authors have done.
  2. Headline: The headline states what is the main benefits you want your readers to get out of your book.
  3. First paragraph: This is usually a descriptive short summary, collective of back up facts or statements.
  4. Sub heading and bulleted list: Found mostly on nonfiction books, the sub heading leads the reader into your book's features - the bulleted points.
  5. The closing paragraph: This is usually one or two sentences that sum it up and issues a call to action.
  6. Testimonial: An endorsement from a well known person on what they think of your book.
  7. Author photo and bio: If there is room, add a photo and a short intro about you, the author, and/or your business.
  8. Signature: Can include a company name, contact info, website, blog, and physical location. Usually located in the bottom left.
  9. Barcode: The barcode is made from your ISBN that you get from bowker.com and, although there is no standard placement, is usually positioned on the bottom right. There is some debate as to whether your book's price should be included in your barcode. You will see books that do and some that don't.

When it comes to book design, spend some time in developing the layout and content of your back cover. It just may be the thing that convinces a reader to open you book and then buy it.

[Karrie Ross is a nationally recognized book designer consultant and coach, and can be contacted at Be It Now! Karrie Ross.]