Sunday, July 28, 2013

10 Basic Things to Know about Book Cover Design

While the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” it probably happens more often than we like to admit in the publishing world. Whoever designs your book cover, whether it is your publisher, a graphic designer or even yourself, it’s important to keep the following items in mind when designing the book cover.
1. Determine the size of your book. The first and most basic is what size book are you publishing. This will influence font and image sizes and where certain information goes on the cover.
2. Pick a great cover image. Whether your cover uses a piece of art, a photograph or graphics, use something that ties into the subject of your book. Make sure you get permission to use the image if it is not your own!
3. Choose a font. By now, there are millions of fonts to choose from for your cover. You want to pick a font that is readable and speaks to the book contents. If your book has a fun topic, you may want to pick something with a little flair. If your book is about business or another serious topic, you may want to stick with the more classic styles.
4. Write an author bio. This should be a short paragraph about you and your previous works and area of expertise. Include any award or accolades you’ve received in the past.
5. Write a book blurb. This short description of the content of your book should be concise and pique the interest of the reader without giving away too much information. Make sure to leave a little mystery.
6. Include review blurbs. If you sent out early copies of your book for colleagues and media outlets to read, make sure to take out snippets of their reviews to include on the cover. These should be their opinion of your book, not a reiteration of the content.
7. Determine spine text and art. Depending on the thickness of your book, you may be able to place something on the spine of the book. This makes it easy to find your book on a shelf of many books. If possible, include a smaller version of the cover image or a complementary image. At minimum the spine should include the book name and your last name.
8. Include a bar code area. This area is important for sales. It includes the ISBN and price of your book in addition to the bar code for scanning. Book stores and other retailers rely on this for ease of selling and the placement and arrangement is fairly uniform. It is usually white or a light color for easy scanning.
9. Provide credit for cover art. Whether the artwork used on the cover is yours or another’s, find a spot on the cover to include a reference to the providing artist.
10. Include the publisher’s logo, website and/or contact info. Since books are a publisher’s main product, it is important for them to have their information on the back of the cover. Keep this in mind with compiling all your other cover elements.
Here’s a quick list of some of the basics to a book cover. What else have you seen on book covers that are not listed here?

Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly:

Monday, July 22, 2013

10 Things to Consider When Publishing Your Book

Examples of book cover elements.
Once you’ve written your book and begun the process of preparing your manuscript for publication, there may be some items that you don’t really think about but play an important part in a successful publication.
1.       Collect all photos, art & illustrations. If it’s appropriate for your book, make sure you’ve identified and categorized any necessary images for the book. We’ve written a more in depth explanation for photo and illustration collection here.
2.      Get permissions. If you are quoting song lyrics, movie lines or quotes from other books that are not public domain, make sure you write to the entity holding the rights for permission to use the item. Simply giving credit will not protect you from potential litigation. This is especially important for pop culture references.
3.      Copyright your work. Avoid having someone claim any portion of your work as their own by obtaining the copyright.
4.     Compile the text of book. This can be a done in a variety of ways. Some people create an outline first. Others just begin writing and then organize it after they begin. The important part is to get the book written and then edit, edit and then edit again. After you have edited it several times, get a professional to edit your manuscript.
5.      Provide notes (or endnotes). If your book is a work of non-fiction, you may find it useful to provide secondary information as notes or endnotes in the book. This would be supporting information, that isn’t really completely pertinent to the main theme of your book, but that a reader may find interesting.
6.      Provide a bibliography. Most books that are non-fiction do rely on first and second hand sources for the information written about. Make sure you give credit where credit is due.
7.      Design a great cover. While the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” it is the first thing a reader sees so you do want to put some thought and effort into its creation. Some things to consider: artwork related to the subject of your book, your title, and author and book blurb and a bar code are the most important. If you’ve been lucky enough to have someone review an early copy of your book, use excerpts from the review to let readers know what people are saying about your  book. We’ll have a blog post completely dedicated to designing a cover later.
8.     Compile an index. This is especially important for non-fiction, though there may be cases when it is appropriate for works of fiction as well. An index is important to provide a guide for readers to find subjects easily throughout the book. We have complete instructions on how to create an index in this blog.
9.      Get an ISBN. An ISBN number is the International Standard Book Number and uniquely identifies your book in the commercial publishing world. There is only one book per number and it helps catalog and organize books.
10.   Set a price. And, of course, you want to determine what the price should be for your book. This needs to take into account the cost of publishing and any other overhead and publisher fees in order to provide a decent profit per book.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 More Keys to Better Book Signings

Here are some additional ideas for improving your book signing events.
1. Connect with your Alma Mater. Check with the book store at your university about holding a book signing. This event can be great for both parties involved. Not only are you able to promote your book, the bookstore can advertise what their alumni are working on. Think about timing it with big sports games, if they are important to your school. You can always sign during “homecoming.”
2. Stay upbeat. If you’re engaging and entertaining, your guests are more likely to stop, hear what you have to say and, even, buy your book.
3. Brand your table. Come up with something related to your book that also speaks to you. Find a way to coordinate pens, papers, etc so everything ties back to that concept.
4. Stop in before the signing. Visit the location a few days before to scope out the location you’ll be set up. If you’re near a bigger name author’s book that’s similar, let customers know that “If you like X book, you’ll love mine because…”
5. Allow questions. If the format allows, let everyone know that you will be taking questions after the signing. Have friends in the audience prepped with questions if necessary.
6. Set up a raffle. Have something small to raffle off—how about a autographed copy of the book.  Use this as an opportunity to collect people’s information for your newsletter. Make sure you have a box for them to check to sign up for your newsletter.
7. Draw them in with chocolate. Most people will stop by and grab a piece of candy, so have a plate set up on the table. The catch? You must engage the visitors when they stop by. Ask them questions, draw their attention to your reviews or even put your book in their hand.
8. Know what to say. Have your thirty-second pitch ready for anyone who stops by so you can draw their attention to your book.
9. Bring your friends. Friends are good as long as you don’t talk to them too much and ignore your audience. Also, make sure they’re dressed appropriately. If you have t-shirts made related to your book, have them wear them. It looks good to have a crowd there to support you.
10. Know why. How you organize your table and event at the location where you are holding your book signing will largely depend on why you are doing it. Note: if you really want to focus on sales, stock up! People are more likely to buy if they can take it home.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

10 Questions Authors Ask... Answered

Oftentimes we receive calls at Just Write Books from authors who have questions on a variety of subjects. We've answered a lot of them in previous blog posts, so here's one blog post with the top ten questions and where to find their answers.
1. How do start writing? We’ve outlined some steps that will help you get your book on paper here.
2. Is my book worth publishing? Check out this blog post from September 2012 for some help determining the value of what you’ve written.
3. What are my options for publishing my book? Traditional publishing is still an option, but also take a look at the other options available in the 21st century in this blog.
4. Will you publish my book? See this blog for our submission guidelines before sending anything about your book.
5. How do I sell my book? See some suggestions for how to get your book into readers’ hands in this blog post.
6. How do I prepare for a book signing event? A great way to connect with your readers is to have a book signing. Check out this blog for how to prepare for one.
7. I’ve been asked to speak at an event. What do I do? Read here for our tips to be prepared for a speaking engagement.
8. How can I get media attention for my book? Read about our recommendations for getting help from the media to get the word out about your book.
9. How do prepare for a TV or radio interview? While some of these preparations are the same, each media does have some specific needs. Read about TV interviews here and radio interviews here.
10. How do I get on Facebook, Twitter or write a blog? Learn about some very basic steps to get involved in social media.