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Posts Tagged ‘book cover design’

Aiming high has benefits and drawbacks…

For a lifelong writer, putting the words of my novel down on paper was a new kind of challenge. For Day 16 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we examine our biggest publishing challenges. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 16 writing prompt:

What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

I have been blessed, in that for as long as I can remember, writing has been easy for me. I’m not talk your bookdownplaying the significance of the struggle some authors/writers experience. I hear nearly every day from people who say something along the lines of, “I’d love to write a book, but I just can’t arrange my thoughts on paper.” I typically suggest they try “talking” the book instead of writing it. Sometimes answering questions from an impartial person and transcribing the interviews is the way to get your thoughts “on paper.” For others, a long list of bullet points can turn itself into a book with the help of a good editor/writing partner.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to rely on any of those techniques, because writing has always been like breathing for me. I just do it – I don’t think about it, slave over it, worry about it, dread it, or procrastinate it. My brain can organize words and I can almost always get what I’m thinking to read exactly the way I intend it. And yet … writing a novel has proven to be my biggest creative challenge to date. Now, I will make the caveat that I think it’s less the writing than it is my audacious choice of subjects for my very first novel: sending a 30-year-old guy (I was a 37-year-old woman when I began writing this story) around the world (he visits 23 countries; I’ve been to five of them). And yet, I was inspired to write this story as my first novel.

Stan in Minsk

Stan and Isis in Minsk

Parts of it have actually been easy. It’s a fairly straightforward travel account, so once I decided which countries Stan would visit, the outline pretty much wrote itself. I have good organizational skills, so even with the inclusion of a generous number of flashbacks, keeping track of who did what when has just been a matter of adding notes to the timeline. Describing places I’ve never been, based on other travelers’ videos and images and blogs – and making it sound like I know what I’m talking about? That has proven quite tricky in places. The good news is that the writers’ block seems to have resolved itself, so the words are flowing again.

Another helpful bit is that I’ve got more marketing ideas than I have time – so I’m already certain of Stan’s success, even though he’s still being shaped. I’m targeting January 8th for the book’s release. Stick around. More details to come.

Please be check in again tomorrow, when I’’ll be talking about my biggest surprise in writing this book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to meeting the challenges head -on!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Cover my world…

Next to writing and editing, your book cover is of vital importance, particularly when it comes to marketing your book. For Day 15 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we explore the book cover design process. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 15 writing prompt:

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

A semi-pro, self-trained graphic designer, I decided to give the first draft of my cover for Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World a go. Ha! It was alternately well received, panned, or utterly and completely misunderstood.

VERSION #1

Stan Finds Himself - L Orsini - first draft

The second version was getting closer, but still missing something.

VERSION #2

Stan Finds Himself - L Orsini - second draft

Time to bring in a pro. I gave the first two drafts to my amazing artist friend, Dana Ball, who came back with this. It’s moving in the right direction … I liked the colors and simplicity. Not crazy about the font.

Stan Finds Himself - Dana Ball take 1

Then this. Now we’re getting somewhere! Too much color and the font’s really hard to read, but I’m liking the concept.

Stan Finds Himself - Dana Ball take 2

Then, he landed this version.

Stan Finds Himself - Dana Ball take 3

Compared to all the others, I loved it! It captures the story, is visually appealing, and the sepia tint make it gender neutral – important for a story about a 30-year-old guy. The font is still a bit too difficult to read, though. And as baseball figures prominently in the story, I asked if Dana could add the suggestion of a baseball to the globe. With that, we arrived at the final cover design.

Stan Finds Himself - Dana Ball - Final

If you’re still in the design process, I recommend you brainstorm your concept first. Sketch it out, if you’ve got even rudimentary drawing skills. Your designer won’t laugh at you – he or she will likely be grateful that you’ve got a direction in mind. Discuss how many concepts they will provide you to start. If your designer has lots of experience with book covers, they should be able to advise you about what will have commercial appeal. Identify your audience: gender, age, academic achievement, social interests – all the demographics and psychographics you need to consider when building your general book marketing plan.

For more book cover tips, see my prior post: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Your Book Cover. Most importantly – if you haven’t already done so, get started now! Your book marketing is stalled until you have a cover to share with the world.

Please be sure to come back and read my next post, when I’’ll be talking about my biggest challenge with this book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Celebrating cover designers, near and far!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Just a quick hit to share an image Facebook friend and fellow author Jo Michaels posted on FB today. It fits our recent theme about the importance of your book cover.

Jo’s post:

Woot!! Guess what’s gonna be mailed out tomorrow to all those LOVELY ARC readers of I, Zombie? Heck yeah! They FINALLY came! Feels like it took forever.

zombie

Congrats, Jo! Wishing you every success.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to Template 5peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements:

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january tip of day

January 7 Book Marketing Tip: Package your book well!

The other day, we talked about the importance of the cover in your branding efforts, so today let’s focus on the elements of your cover.

Joel Bauer, image consultant to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Barbara Walters, has a signature tagline: Wrap your package! Bauer claims we have just 4 seconds before someone forms a first impression about us, right or wrong — so how we choose to clothe ourselves matters.

Love the concept or hate it, but packaging sells products, too. Have you ever noticed how much money certain cosmetics, liquor, and electronics companies spend on their packaging? Why? Those brands know an important marketing secret: packaging plays a significant role in people’s buying decisions. First, packaging helps the buyer identify the item they’re looking at. An alarm clock is more than likely in a box with a photo of an alarm clock on it. Secondly, the quality of the packaging can create the impression that the thing inside is better than the one right next to it with the less attractive wrapper.

Given that you probably cannot discern the quality and/or performance of a product just by looking at it, companies rely on packaging to sway your purchasing decisions, just like people are more likely to form a positive opinion of you if you’ve taken some time with your clothing ensemble.

fat_sister

Which of these would you be more inclined to purchase?

We’ve all heard the old axiom, You can’t judge a book by its cover — but the cover is the thing that will attract people’s attention!

Perhaps one of the most important things to understand when it comes to your book cover — the packaging for your book — is that a good cover will attract your target audience.

As Chris McMullen says in her excellent blog post:

Effective packaging does three things:

  1. Grabs attention. (In a positive way.)
  2. Attracts the specific target audience. (It should also look appealing and professional.)
  3. From a distance, it sends a short message (not necessarily in words) about what to expect from the product. (There may be more details in print upon closer inspection, but it’s the distant message that determines whether or not the consumer will ever inspect the packaging closely.)

This is why you need a well-designed (professional) cover. You can’t really fault people for assuming that if you didn’t bother to try to impress them with your cover, you probably didn’t do such a great job with the words either.

There are three essential ingredients to a successful cover: (1) a good title, (2) great design, and (3) a blurb with a hook. Endorsements are also very  helpful.

A few things to remember about cover endorsements:

  1. Shoot for the moon — think of the biggest name in your field and approach that person.
  2. Shrug it off if they say no. At least you asked — and now they know about your book.
  3. Some might ask you to pay for their endorsement. This is a personal decision you’ll have to make if/when the situation arises.
  4. Start early. Even the most well-intentioned people may say yes, but it can take time to get the information from them!

And, of course, make sure your title, cover design, and blurb are consistent. As McMullen puts it:

The cover, blurb, and [Amazon] Look Inside need to send a unified message. They must make it instantly (shoppers might look at your thumbnail for two seconds to decide whether or not to check the book out) clear what type of book it is. Precisely what type (e.g. contemporary romance, not teen romance; or does the cover look a little naughty, when the romance is light and clean?).

Things you’ll want to include on your cover:

FRONT: Title, subtitle, your full name, endorsement

SPINE: Title, your last name, publisher’s marque (logo for your publishing company)

BACK: Genre, price, website, well-written blurb, ISBN/bar code, QR code with a link to your trailer or website, endorsements/quotes from reviews, author photo, author bio (the last two are optional, particularly if you include an About the Author page at the end of your book)

Some final thoughts on your cover design:

  • It’s important.
  • Spend some time studying the covers of best-selling books in your genre to see what’s working. What do they have in common?
  • Budget for your cover. If you’re not a gifted graphic designer, plan to hire someone.
  • Nothing is a bigger waste of your resources as an author than a cover that doesn’t do your writing justice.

Happy cover designing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to Template 5peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY!

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january tip of day

January 4 Book Marketing Tip: Your book marketing is stalled until you have a cover

As you might imagine, the first question almost every new author asks about marketing their forthcoming book is “What should I do first?” The answer is simple: Determine your title and get your book cover designed.

Why is the cover so important  especially in today’s ebook world? Because you use it EVERYWHERE!where to begin

We’ve written before on the 8 mistakes to avoid when designing your book cover. That post is probably worth a glance, whether you’re creating your own cover (not recommended unless you have some pretty mean graphic design skills) or  hiring a pro (prices can range considerably, but so can the quality!).

Places you might use your cover:

  • your author website
  • your blog
  • collateral materials like postcards, bookmarks, your author one sheet
  • your book trailer
  • on your personal Facebook page and your book/author fan page
  • your book’s Twitter account
  • your book’s Pinterest board
  • your media releases
  • email announcements to your list

This list is by no means comprehensive. Yet each one of these is a marketing step you’ll want to get moving on BEFORE YOU FINISH the book. If you wait until your book is done to design your cover, you’ll leave an unnecessary and gaping hole in your marketing strategy.

Happy cover designing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to Template 5peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY!

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december tip of day

December 30 Book Marketing Tip: Share your cover!

I came across this last night on a random (to me) book blog. Thanks to ME Patterson for this great idea!

Ever think about the fact that retailers use consumers as advertisers every day? When you carry that TJ Maxx sack around or reuse a your pic hereChipotle bag for your lunch, you are advertising those brands. Same with t-shirts that bear logos like Nike and Aéropostale. Also true for a John Deere cap or One Direction backpack.

So why not do something similar by giving your fans a chance to keep you nearby? Make a desktop wallpaper version of your book cover and offer free downloads! Do this before your book is released to generate pre-launch interest. Do it for a currently published book to remind your fans about you.

For that matter, if it dovetails with your subject/theme and you have the budget, you might want to opt for a promo product like a beach towel or keyring.

What are your marketing plans for 2014? Share your best ideas in the comments section and we’ll put together a post with all of them!

Happy promoting!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want a professional book cover that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Visit our website to peruse our selection of 25 book cover templates, and download our complimentary special report, “Book Elements: Organizing the Parts of Your Book” TODAY! 

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Steve Avery … baseball fan, bibliophile

For the next 14 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 15 writing prompt:

Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits.

This prompt was inspired by a recent conversation with my friend Steve Avery – the most avid purchaser, reader, and consumer of books I have ever met. In short, he is a true bibliophile. Steve and I have been friends for years. We met selling tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks way back in 2000, and in all the time I’ve known him, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him without a book. His house looks like what I imagine the back room of a book shop might look like, except there’s just one copy of each title.  He recently admitted to me that he’s more of a collector than a reader, in that while he buys between one and two dozen books a month and starts all  of them, he probably finishes fewer than 50 percent.

Steve was one of the first people I knew who owned a Kindle – but he seldom uses it now, because he has an iPad and an iPhone in part, but mostly because he just prefers printed books, hardbacks if he can get them. I went with Steve to the midnight release of one of the middle Harry Potter books (I couldn’t begin to tell you which number or title, but I’m sure he remembers) at a Waldenbooks up the street from his house that has long been converted into a check-cashing store.

A true sign of Steve’s friendship is that he has bought a book, read it very carefully so as not to make even the slightest crumple in a corner as he turned the pages, and then gifted it to you because you once mentioned it in passing. Almost as big a baseball fan as he is an avid reader, he’s probably got every baseball title ever printed. I always consider it a coup when I can alert him about a new baseball book or seminar before he’s heard of it.

Steve does not buy used books unless it’s a rare or hard-to-find title. If it’s not hot off the presses, he’s probably not interested. He is not only a consumer of books – but he devours book magazines and websites. His favorite authors are the father and daughter duo, James Lee Burke and Alafair Burke. The best thing he’s read recently is Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

He loves to attend signings and considers his vast – and ever growing – collection of autographed books among his most prized. The most memorable signing he attended was that of Sophia Littlefield, who was interviewed by her longtime friend, Juliet Blackwell. As Steve tells it, they threw away the script and carried on an impromptu interview for an hour which he found utterly delightful. Questions he’d most like to ask his favorite authors include “How autobiographical is your work?” and “Are you considering moving into the YA market?”

The book that most surprised Steve recently was William Landay’s Defending Jacob “because he wrote beyond the obvious end of the story.”

A history major with an avid imagination and a very funny storyteller, Steve does not fancy himself a writer at all. I think he really shorts himself in this area – but he will tell you he’d much rather read the words of a true expert than dabble at conveying a convoluted message.

He recently left me a Facebook message with a new proposition. Because he reads almost any kind of fiction but would like to get to more nonfiction titles, we are going to begin a book club of two. He’ll choose two NF titles that interest him and ask me to choose the one I’d most like to read. He’ll buy it, read it, pass it on to me, and then we’ll discuss. Like grownups. Our first assignment is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I find a moment to stop nattering.

Happy reading!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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The challenge of time and priority

For the next 16 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.

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Day 13 writing prompt:

What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

The original idea for my book, 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women, came to me in March 2001. It took me a few months to compile the questions, and the book was nearing completion in early September 2001. Then, like so many dimensions of all our lives, it came screeching to a halt as a result of the 9/11 tragedies.

While I lived in the NYC area, I commuted to the Financial District from New Jersey. I worked in the World Financial Center, the complex directly across the street from the World Trade Center, connected to it by a footbridge. In fact, the PATH train I took to work every day was stationed in the WTC. Certainly these tragedies resonated uniquely with every American, but because a former co-worker lost her firefighter husband, and my friends and loved ones were lucky to escape with their lives, for me the events were eerily personal.

Eventually, though, the shock began to abate, and my own life crept back toward a routine – but for a long time, images of the WTC (before and after) appeared everywhere, and each time I gasped anew. The site of the Twin Towers in pre-9/11 movies still catches me off-guard sometimes.

So, for a long while after the terrorist attacks occurred, I put aside this project. It felt trivial and ridiculous in light of the events of the world. But slowly, I was drawn back to it – because it is important and worthwhile. Upon rereading them, it seemed to me that a number of the questions required re‑wording in our post-9/11 world. I offer them with humility, honesty, and the utmost respect.

Eventually I hit on a layout for the interior pages that I liked and seemed to prove useful to the readers – and I had an official launch in December 2010. In 2011, I entered the Global eBook Awards contest and won in the category of Women’s Studies. Since then? Nada. Marketing plans that have been waylaid by client work. Formatting for Kindle and a paperback version, with only the questions (as opposed to a workbook format) in process but incomplete.

My biggest challenge? Continuity. Time. Priority. I seem to work in spurts, making giant progress. And then back on the shelf for another six months to a year. The good news is that the book has a certain timelessness about it – and I know the right things to do. It’s just now making a concerted effort to do them.

Writing about it again as a part of the blog challenge is motivating, though! Glad to be in the mix, just like everyone else in the Challenge.

Happy publishing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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The pros … and cons … of designing your own book cover

For the next 17 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.

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Day 12 writing prompt:

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

Although my book is geared toward women, I didn’t want anything frilly or girly for my cover. And definitely NO pink! I realize, in retrospect, that I could have had a professional design my cover, but at the time I was putting it together, I didn’t really have funds for a cover designer, let alone the thought process that would have valued such an investment. So I did it myself – something I do not typically recommend that authors do.                        

Though my cover has evolved over the years (VAST improvements in font and general structure), it remains focused around a painting I made nearly a dozen years ago when I was substitute teaching at my niece’s Montessori school in Phoenix. It was a late-spring day during the after-school program (i.e., too HOT to run around outside), and most of the kids and I were entertaining ourselves with a variety of painting techniques: finger painting, stamping, and water color. It wasn’t the only painting I made that day – I remember also creating a whale swimming in a sea of artsy swirls of blue and teal and green. No idea where either of those originals is now, though I know I never threw them out.

Eventually, the sunflower (sometimes with the pot and sometimes just the head of the flower) became images I used in all aspects of my book – from interior page design to bookmarks to e-cards and, of course, the website.

The facet of my current cover of which I am most proud is the WINNER label for the Global eBook Awards, which I won in the category of Women’s Studies.

It’s funny because green and yellow (gold) were the colors of my grade school, a place and time that hold few fond memories for me. Back in the days before virtually every Catholic school (and many charter and other private schools) moved to uniforms, we were required to wear green, yellow, gold, or white clothing, though not a specific tartan or uniform skirt or pants. Ugh. My sister cringes every time it even comes up in conversation. Nevertheless, I love the colors as applied to my book cover. I love the versatility of the flower design, and the ease with which a sunflower of any color is recognized.

If I had it to do over again, I’d at least employ the consultation of a professional book cover designer. I’d probably actually go with a ? or some other symbol or image to indicate the concept of questions. I might actually put a woman on the cover – novel idea, no? Nevertheless, it is what it is and I’m happy with it. For now.

Happy cover designing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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8 mistakes to avoid when designing your book cover

According to selfpublishingresources.com, 225 out of 300 booksellers surveyed identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component of the entire book. All agreed that the jacket is the prime real estate for promoting a book. To that end, here are 8 design mistakes to avoid if you want to sell more books:

1. Waiting until your book is done. Given that the cover is the most recognizable physical feature of your book, much of your marketing will require a cover image to accompany it. If you wait until the book is done to begin designing your cover, you will lose valuable lead time for building your brand and attracting your audience. Places you will use your cover include: website, blog, social media, onesheet, catalogues, media kit, bookmarks, postcards, etc.

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2. Doing it yourself. Many indie authors, in an attempt to conserve money, forgo the investment in a graphic designer with book cover expertise. This is a HUGE mistake. If you hope to have your book make it onto bookstore shelves, you must impress the book buyers who will likely make their determinations based on just a few seconds’ glance at the cover. Additionally, a shopper will spend an average of just 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 14 seconds on the back. This is a total of less than a half-minute to decide if your book is even worth flipping through! If you do not have a professional image that is congruent with your contents, you will likely miss the sale.

One of the surest signs of an amateur book cover: no borders, lines, or breaks anywhere. Just a photo/graphic plopped in the middle of the page, and some text hovering over it. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, but it’s just not eye-catching in any way. By the way, if you’re going to use this method, at least make sure the graphic is in some way related to your theme. Is the implication here that alcoholics are hidden in the clouds?

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3. Putting too much on it. This is a classic mistake of self-publishing and/or new designers – particularly with the back of the book. Take a look at a few well-designed covers for books that are selling well and mimic them. You may or may not decide to put the author’s photo and bio on the back. Personally, I think that’s wasted marketing space, as there’s plenty of room in the back matter (pages that follow the text of the book) to include author info.

GORGEOUS front cover.  But, wait … the problem is the back cover. With more than 400 words, this back cover does not help the prospective reader, but loses them. Consider that the average reading speed is 225 words per minute, and the average person will spend 14 seconds on a back cover. You do the math.

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4. Making it too different from everything else out there. There’s an understandable desire to create a fresh, new cover that stands out from everything else out there. While you definitely want your book to have its own flavor and personality, be careful of making it too different. One suggestion is going to the bookstore or hitting Amazon to see how other similar books are designed. If there’s a trend toward red covers for your business book and you decide to go with teal and purple, yours may definitely stand out – too much. The last thing you want is someone to look at yours and wonder why it’s sooo different – and skip it to move on to something else. If you’re going for different, make sure there’s a reason and purpose for it.

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5. Writing boring copy for the back. Remember, this is your opportunity to sell the book. It doesn’t necessarily apply to e-books, but for any book that may be sold in a store (not necessarily a bookstore), the likely order of viewing is front cover, back cover, and then opening your book to read a few pages. Use bullet points to tell the prospective reader what the book is about and who would benefit from buying it!

Great job with the endorsement and back copy.

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6. Overlooking the endorsement(s). I generally recommend that my authors begin working on their endorsements as soon as the manuscript is finished. When it comes to your endorsements, shoot for the moon! Ask the most prominent person you can think of with any tie to your subject for their testimonial or endorsement. The worst they will do is tell you “no,” in which case you’ll be no worse off than before you asked them. Be sure to start EARLY with these queries, as it may take some time for a busy person to get back to you. Don’t be disappointed if someone says yes and then does not follow through – just politely continue to inquire and nudge.

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7. Omitting the printer’s mark. The printer’s mark is the emblem, symbol, or insignia that designates a book as being the product of a particular publishing company. As a self-publisher, you need to create a publishing company name, and your publishing company will want to develop a symbol that represents it. This symbol generally is printed on the copyright page and on the spine of the book. After getting a general feel for the front cover, this is the first thing I look for in a complete book; its absence is a the clear sign of an amateur self-publisher.

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8. Making the cover too detailed, and the font too small or difficult to read. This is especially important if you will sell your book as an eBook. A great rule of thumb is to shrink your cover image to a thumbnail. If you can still read the title and make out the image for a thumbnail size picture (the first/only way you see many eBook covers), you’re probably on your way to creating a decent cover. Cute fonts may be just that – cute – but if you can’t read the title as a thumbnail or standing across a room, dump the font and go for something simpler.

While this cover design is very clever and I really like it quite a bit, the title and meaning are completely lost when made into a thumbnail.

The bottom line is: Design the most professional cover you can afford. After editing, it is the most important part of the book!

Happy cover designing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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What can the entrance to Target teach you about marketing?

I was at a Target department store  last night when I saw two women try to enter through the “Out” door. They stood in front of the automatic sliding doors, seemingly a bit perplexed as to why they wouldn’t open. The magic occurred as I triggered the door mechanism when I approached the exit. For a moment, I thought, “Duh it says ‘OUT’ right there!” But I quickly recalled that I’ve done exactly the same thing on more than one occasion, because for some inexplicable reason, Target’s doors are backwards! The entrance is on the left, and the exit is on the right.

In America, the cultural norm is that we walk on the right which extends to entering on the right, meaning that when there are distinct entrances and exits, the entrance is on the right as you face the building, and the exit is on the left. Why is this a big deal? Ask anyone who works in a kitchen the dangers of entering through the wrong door. As a culture, we’re just conditioned to this, so we expect it always to work this way. When it doesn’t as at Target we can be thrown off balance.

Now I’ll admit I didn’t spend a lot of time researching it, but I did try, and was unable to find any mention in Target’s literature or any articles/sites about the retail chain as to why they’ve chosen to make their doors completely counter to America’s cultural norm. The thing is, it’s noticeably different. And that, in and of itself, is worth mentioning, because there’s a lesson in it for your book marketing strategy.

There’s no doubt that every author wants to make a splash and stand out from the crowd. We’ve talked about this before. The absolutely best way to do this is by making a stellar product in your case, write a great book. But there’s more to the book than just the writing. There’s also the cover design to consider. Your website. Your overall brand. Of those last three, where should you work to differentiate yourself? Not necessarily in the cover, and only with care and caution in the website. Here’s what I mean.

Say you go to the bookstore or peruse Amazon for other books on your topic. You find out that almost all of the current books have white covers, so you decide to stand out by making your cover red. Will it work to get you noticed? Perhaps but maybe not in the way you want it to. Your red book cover may catch people’s eye … but then, either consciously or unconsciously, they could very likely find themselves wondering, “Why is that one so different?” and pass it up completely to compare two or three of the more typical white-covered books. This is not a given, but it’s something to consider. When all the books have a similar look and feel to them, if you do something that is radically different but is not exceptional, that difference could work against you.

Likewise for your website. Over the years, we’ve come to expect website menus to run along the left-hand side or across the top. Market research also shows that the capture box for building your e-mail list works best when positioned in the upper right-hand corner of your website. Say you want your site to have  a different look from the rest; moving these key features is not the place to make those changes. When a user is accustomed to doing things one way and you overtly shift that, the end result is often disorientation and in the case of a Web visitor, that quickly translates to a click to the next site.

The same is true for your media releases. Yes, we’ve discussed the fact that reporters and prominent bloggers receive dozens perhaps hundreds of media releases in a week. Of course you want yours to stand out. But the fact is that there’s an accepted template for media releases, and if you go off the path and vary yours too widely from what people expect, the result could be that your release gets tossed, rather than generating interest, and perhaps a story.

Think about it. You’re a busy reporter and you know a news release typically has a headline, a dateline, a first sentence hook that captures the essence of the pitch, and a quote about the proposed story. But in your release, you start with your bio because you feel that’s the real selling point. Oops. Busy reporter has just tossed your release because things weren’t in the expected order, and they didn’t have time to go hunting through your release to find the pertinent information.

Are you seeing a trend here? Different alone isn’t going to cut it. If you want to make it different, it has to also be exceptional! It can’t simply be different and annoying, like the doors at Target.

How can you make your book cover exceptional? Really amazing art might do it. A different size or shape might do it. French flaps or a pop-up jacket might do it. But then again, you might just be spending a lot of money on gimmicks that don’t pay off.

With the help of the right Web designer someone who understands the art of attraction, the science of technology, and the business of search marketing there are myriad ways to make your website stand out.

As far as making your news release stand out, you’d be better off trying to phone the reporter to pitch the story before you send it than to try to get creative with the release itself.

I absolutely encourage you to push the limits of creativity in your marketing strategy, but to do so in the places that pay off. I’m as big a rebel as you’ll find in many arenas, but sometimes it turns out that the path that’s been paved is there for a reason.

Laura

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