All About Covers

why-great-book-covers-are-so-important
Courtesy of BookMarketingTools.com

There are two things an author must focus on aside from the writing part. While writing is super important, so is a great editor and an amazing cover. Today is all about the cover. You may not think this is important, but trust me it is. A bad cover can ruin a potential sale. In fact, it can ruin a lot of potential sales.

Think about it. What is the first thing you see as a reader?

The cover, right?

Whether you’re scrolling through thousands of books on Amazon? Or walking down the aisle at Barnes & Noble, what you’re focused on are all those covers. You’re looking for the ONE or if you’re like me, the several, cover(s) that are going to absolutely grab your attention.

Don’t believe me? How about an example then?

If you came across the three covers below, which book would you pick up?

 

Did you answer Hush, Hush?

Believe me now? 

Now, if you’re an author reading this, you should know this. If you’re new to writing, take this as a lesson that a great cover is one thing you do not skimp on. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions.

Because here’s the thing. If you go the traditional route of publishing, you will have next to no say on your cover. You might get two options (at best) and the only difference will be the color. If you Indie (independently) or self-publish, then the only exception is IF you are a graphic artist/designer. Then you may design your own cover, BUT you have to, have to, have to GET a neutral third party opinion. 

Do NOT think you know better. And if you aren’t a graphic artist/designer, this ABSOLUTELY applies to you. 

Don’t believe me? How about some more show and tell then?

Below are the covers for my first book. (Yes, the title did change.) If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, then you know I’ve gone through some transitions. The first time, I put it out there, I did the cover myself with a little help from Createspace and it was a joke. The second time, I worked with a partnership publisher and just gave the cover artist my thoughts on what the cover should look like. Same thing the third time around. And the fourth, I hired a professional cover artist (thank you Molly!) and it came out perfect. All I did was tell her about something I liked that she had in a pre-made cover, a little about the story, and the main characters. The rest, she did.

So, I’ll ask again. Which book did you pick up?

You don’t have to tell me, I already know.

At this point, you may be asking yourself what makes a great cover? If you are, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is it eye-grabbing?
  2. Is it appropriate for the genre?
  3. Is it legible? Is the font too big? Blurry? Can you read the title clearly? Is the color off? 
  4. Does it relate to your story?
  5. Does it stand out in the crowd? (Thousands upon thousands of books are released every day. What makes your story, your cover different?)
  6. Does it say when, where, why?

If you are confident that your cover screams all of the above, then do a poll. Don’t be afraid to ask the public (readers or even other authors) for their opinions.

I promise, you won’t be sorry that you did. 

 

Foreign Authors

Guest Post by Maria Vermisoglou

mariaToday I am going to talk about foreign authors. Some authors for various reasons write their books in English even if it’s not their first language. Being one of them I am going to try to help as much as I can. This blog post is for them.

After finishing the manuscript, you think, “I am done.” Not quite. Since I am a self-published author I am going to talk more about that process. I didn’t know anything about how things were in English talking countries so that involved a lot of research. I found out that Createspace, a self-publishing company was my best option. Everyone said it was free. But is it?

Not really. You need to hire an editor, an illustrator and sometimes a person to do the formatting.

  • Every author—even those who publish in their language—need an editor. An editor is more important than anything. No book is perfect but a good-looking book is the one with the fewest mistakes. Your book must be looking at its best. After editing the manuscript, yourself then you send it to the editor and while you wait, you can start on another novel.money-tree
  • Your manuscript can’t be looking like a draft.
  • A good cover makes a good book. The cover must draw your reader in. There are a lot of illustrators who can create covers for little money. Also, you can order a premade cover.
  • Beta readers. They are essential to every author. Some are getting paid and some do it for free. You should have at least three beta readers. Make sure you are picking people who read the genre you are writing or unfortunately you are going to get some bad critiques.

That’s it. You are done. You, have read your novel so many times that you know every line of it so that’s a sign you are in the last step.

  • Submit to the self-publishing company. Read the guidelines and after everything is done hit PUBLISH. Congratulations!

Are you done? No! now, comes the hard part: marketing. As a new author, nobody knows you so you have to make people know you. Participate in contests and awards. Ask reviewers, book tubers, and other authors to review your book.

cursedgirl
Purchase Here

Make blog posts, author interviews and generally promote your book. Start a website and get on social media. Update regularly. Go to book fairs if you can. A lot of us live in our countries and English books are hard to be found so it’s not always an option but if you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate.

  • Get involved to get noticed. Help to get help. Help your fellow authors so they can help you. Offer to help for free. Make promos and giveaways. The public loves giveaways. Make one and you will gain followers. Every day, post something. It might be related to your writing, books or a joke. People respond.

I wish good luck to every author and don’t be scared. You might see a dark tunnel and you think you are not going to make it but you will. There are millions of self-published authors around you. They made it so why not you?

Adios!

If you’d like to learn more about Maria, you can follow her on Facebook, her website, Amazon and Goodreads.

Let’s Get Real

bigstock-Money-Laundering-Cartoon-Illus-64544617The other day I was going through my Facebook posts and I came across one that had a generator for self-publishing. I took the quiz just to see if it would even come close to what I had spent. It wasn’t entirely accurate, but it wasn’t too far off either. Later that day I’m reading some of the comments and I read this one where the author (and I use the term lightly) stated the lowest amount he came up with was $1800. He went on to say he doesn’t pay for editing, he just puts it out there.

I had to stop because the # 1 rule for writers is you NEVER forego editing. And there are a multitude of reasons why. imagesIn fact, if you’ve ever read Fifty Shades of Grey you know what I’m talking about. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. No writer is and no writer will ever claim to be perfect. Perfect does not exist in the world of writing. The closest any of us can get is “just right.” That means it is “just right” in the eyes of the author. No offense to E.L. James, but the writing was atrocious. I read the book once and it was enough to make me question if an editor even glanced at the novel before it was published.

That’s a major difference between self published authors and traditionally published authors. There is almost a guarantee that traditionally published authors have gone through the editing process. Self published authors don’t have to pay an editor to look at the work. Some, like our aforementioned “author” prefer to do their own editing. cross-eyed-kidHere’s the thing, writers can only look at their work so many times before their eyes begin to cross. It’s the reason a break is often suggested after the first draft. Then again after the second and third and so on. This is also one of the many reasons why an editor is NECESSARY. An editor can find things the writer can’t. They can correct grammar, take out unnecessary prattle, and strengthen the work.

The reason why some authors refuse to use an editor is cost. On average an editor charges anywhere between $0.015 and $0.035 per word. That may not seem like much, until you realize the typical novel runs between 70,000 to 100,000 words. This means an author can spend anywhere from $1,050 to $3500 for the edit of one book. Seems like a lot, huh? Yeah, it can cost a pretty penny, but if the editor is awesome (like mine), then the money is well spent. And this is only if the author self publishes.

Editing isn’t the only thing to think about. A self published author also has to consider their novel’s cover. There are a number of ways to handle this. One, the author may be someone who can put together a good cover, but let’s say for arguments sake they aren’t. The next option is to use a generic cover provided by some of these free sites an author uses for publication. tumblr_mwq9bqqHOD1t06k0mo1_400For example, www.createspace.com or www.draft2digital.com. Both sites offer a walk-thru cover set-up. The last and final option is to pay for it. Now, depending on who the author uses, this can range anywhere from $50 to $200. This is on top of the editing cost. And let’s face it, readers do judge a book by its cover.

There’s also the interior design, but that’s limited to two choices. Either the author learns how to configure their novel or they pay someone to do it. If an author chooses to pay for the interior design, it could run another $400 in cost. So if the self published author has decided to pay for everything, then they have spent anywhere from $1100 to $4100 to publish one book.

And that is just getting the book out there. You’re probably thinking, what’s left? They’ve done everything right? Wrong.

There’s still advertisement, which is always optional. Creating ads isn’t necessary, but it helps get the information about an author’s book out there. This doesn’t include free advertisement, like friends sharing information about the author’s book or readers who leave reviews. Mobile-App-User-Acquisition-Increases-Through-Aarki-Social-AdvertisingOr if an author gets blogs to review their book in exchange for a free copy. There are a number of ways to advertise and not all of them are expensive, some are even free. But if an author chooses to pay for ads, this cost could range from $150 to $500 or more.

Let’s review.

Editing: $1050 to $3500, Cover Design: $50 to $200, Interior Design: up to $400, Ads: $150 to $500.

In total, a self published author can spend between $1250 to $4600 to publish one book.

Suddenly it makes sense why a self published author might chose to cut corners.

 

To Market or Not to Market? That is the question.

Last night I was going through my e-mails and I saw this group discussion on LinkedIn. I check this out regularly because in some cases they have useful information. The topic of this particular discussion revolved around marketing. Every writer knows marketing can be difficult and a new skill each must learn to endeavor through. Now, the person who initiated the topic might have had a good thought, but it wasn’t a good idea. The topic regarded overloading audiences with information about your book/product. Here’s the problem with that and most people agreed. Throwing information about your book/product out there for everyone to see loses momentum. First of all, you don’t want to target everyone because your book/product is not made for everyone. There are a ton of books out there that talk about picking your target audience. In other words, who is the book/product made for? For example, my book series “Dark Road” is intended for Young Adults age 15/16 to adults in their mid to late twenties. This is only the start of my target audience. I would break this down further by altering my target to young adult women age 15/16 to adult women in their mid to late twenties. I could continue to break this down by including those who attend, are attending, or attended college. I could even go further by referencing race, ethnicity, or even financial status. Some of this I think isn’t necessary, but most of it is. It’s important to know who you are trying to sell to because that is going to determine your marketing strategy.

Let me give you another example. Just recently I hit over 500 likes on Facebook. This should be a momentous occasion, something I can offer a quick celebration to, but there is a reason why I didn’t automatically jump for joy. Over 300 of these are what we call paid-for-likes. This means that I paid Facebook to advertise for me and they generated likes. Unfortunately, I notice how well these paid-for-likes work when I post something on my page that no one or very few respond to. This might seem a little redundant, but think about it this way. These likes I got are not necessarily from my target audience because Facebook floods the market with my page information. As I get these likes, I wonder: Why do they like my page? What about my page attracted them? Some of my initial beliefs had to do with the fact that I openly displayed my tattoos. I thought better of this simply because tattoos are no longer as taboo as they used to be. So I changed my background picture. Now, I have done this a multitude of times. The picture I currently display is below (designed by Freaky Deaky Designs).

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Long before this was placed, I turned off the advertisement part for Facebook and decided it was just time I depend on myself. I believe that it is the best way to generate real marketing as long as you know who your audience is and that is the most important factor.