Choosing the Cover for your Self-Published Book – Follow the Crowd or Dare to be Different?

covertwitterheader.jpgAs an indie author, it’s your prerogative to do things your way, including choosing the cover design for your self-published book. While trade-published authors often dislike the covers picked by their publishers, that doesn’t mean their publishers have got it wrong. Though it may seem that all book covers in a particular genre start to look the same (take the trend for headless women on historical novels a few years ago, for example), trends are followed for good reason, and you flout them at your peril. Here I explains why it’s important to strike the right balance between pleasing yourself and conforming with common practices in your genre.

As a self-publishing author, there is one benefit which I believe gives authors a pre-conceived satisfaction, and that’s the control that they have on how their book will look in their hands at the end of the process. For many authors this is something they have dreamed of for a very long time. As a book design professional, it can sometimes be difficult to express to authors why the cover that they have visualised in their mind may not the best option.

Should You Dare to be Different?

Often the first thing a professional will hear from an author is that they want the cover to be completely different from other books on the market. Most book cover designers will tell you that this can be fatal to a book’s selling potential. This is where professional book cover designers prove their worth. They’re not just graphic designers; they should research the elements of a cover and what is working in particular areas of the market on a regular basis. The trends that are set and followed can mean the difference between your book selling or being looked over by a reader.

With this being the case, there is a fine line between being different and risking that vital connection between your book and your chosen target market.

This is because readers are naturally drawn to books that have a familiar appearance and brand to those that they have previously enjoyed.

carolcollage.jpg

The Disadvantage of Difference

If your book has a very different cover, you may lose out on those sales from readers who are looking for a particular style of work. Many publishers, agents and designers insist on using the tried and tested styles of design, only testing the waters with a new trend once they know it will pick up sales. This can be frustrating for self-publishing authors who rightly feel that their work deserves to be noticed, but ironically, being different can mean your book isn’t noticed as much as it could be.

Blend In, But Don’t Camouflage

Having said this, there is also a risk that your book will blend in too much and the design may appear dull. There are, however, ways that you or your designer can make your cover stand out whilst still creating a sense of credibility through familiarity within your position in the market.

  • Take some time to look through books in your genre. What covers stand out to you and why?
  • What is selling well and gaining notice?
  • You can also look at other genres, as trends often find themselves crossing over.

Once you have accumulated some detail, use this information to cleverly better the themes and styles that have proved themselves successful. The elements to focus on can include colours, imagery, mood, typography and composition.

Get the Balance Right

Cover design is a true balancing act and something to take great care and consideration over. At the end of the day, the cover is there to perform one job, and that is to appeal and sell to your readership. Achieving this can take some thought, but there are certainly ways to make your work appeal to the genre’s regular readers, whilst standing out for the right reasons.

If you and your designer have an idea that breaks the mould, that you both feel could work then it can be worth trying to become the trendsetter, but if you don’t, there is nothing wrong with balancing familiarity and uniqueness, trusting in the market and in your readers.

 

This blog was originally posted on http://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-book-cover-design-for-self-published-books/

 

If you have any questions about cover design, feel free to comment or email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com

Advertisements

Why You Should Use Video Media to Market your Self-published Books

One of the challenges to indie authors in marketing their self-published books is that people simply don’t have the time to browse the web like they used to. It can feel as if there is a narrowing timeframe in which to generate interest in your work.shutterstock_173650184

With thousands of authors and books competing for attention, it can seem impossible to stand out from the crowd. Information needs to be delivered in a much more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast.

Different techniques are necessary to deliver information online, due to the varying ways internet browsers view material online. An ever increasing amount of people browse via their mobile phones, which means your page of text can become too daunting to read.

This is why many individuals and companies have taken to ‘vlogging’, replacing long articles of text with videos of themselves speaking about what they would have once written, conveying information in a much more graphic medium. The written word will never be replaced, but video can be a creative way of delivering information and reaping the rewards.

Videos displayed on websites can not only increase traffic, but keep visitors engaged up to 88% longer.

With that being the case, video media and book trailers have become increasingly popular, but are still viewed with some skepticism. Authors by nature perform most of their work ‘behind the scenes’ and are more often than not simply not used to such intrusive promotion.

Which Video Option Would Work for You?

There are many options for videos apart from book trailers that authors can consider creating. Website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

An author I recently worked with created a hilarious video of spoof reviews. Some types of video media also have the added bonus of ‘meeting’ the author. Being able to put a face to the name and making your brand memorable has huge advantages for future work and tempts visitors to return.

Marketing professionals worldwide are reporting that video converts better than any other medium, and this is mainly down to its ‘sharability’. In fact up to 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others, meaning your audience just expanded more than you could ever reach in isolation.

Where to Share Your Videos

Once you have produced your videos, there are many platforms that you can develop to reach your audience. The most obvious are your website, blog, social media, Youtube and Vimeo, where uploading is simple. Others that many don’t consider is uploading to your Amazon, Goodreads or Huffington Post profiles, as well as perhaps your publisher’s website. If you are planning to produce regular videos, uploading to the same accounts each time and creating a channel for your media is a must, so that once you have caught their attention, readers can easily find others.

Using Metadata to Broaden Your Views

Naming your videos and adding useful tags when uploading to certain platforms is also key to allowing readers to find you. Much like a blog, using tags for your particular audience and genre, as well as your author name gives you a much greater chance of appearing in their search results.

This explosive growth in popularity is allowing authors to reach a huge audience via visual means, deepening that all-important connection between author and reader and keeping your name at the forefront of their consideration.

Practising What I Preach

What better way to illustrate my argument than with a video?

OVER TO YOU How has using video impacted your book sales and visibility? What’s your top tip for using video media in book marketing? Join the conversation via the comments box!

This post was originally published at ALLi’s How to For Authors – http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-you-should-use-video-media-to-market-your-self-published-books/

Five Prominent Ways a Busy Author Can Market Themselves Online

372913b0c48d2b1442aaf7fa23cb9feeOver the last decade the internet has changed the lives of writers dramatically. It has tested the publishing industry to the max, and is still consistently changing, forcing publishers, authors and marketing professionals to adapt, in order to make the most of what is probably the least expensive, but most effective form of promotion.

As an independent author, it is imperative that you have a plan in place to showcase your work online and get noticed. The single most effective way to achieve this is by building a strong, professional and branded online platform. By planning in advance and ensuring you have ample amount of content to keep your visitors genuinely interested, your author name will gain vital visibility.

There are plenty of ways to achieve this, but I am going to go through the easiest and most prominent five that will ensure you have the knowledge to start building your platform effectively.

 

Author Website

There is little to no point marketing online and getting yourself noticed if you have no focal point to send interested parties to. A well designed and branded website is the perfect place to host your marketing material as well as detailed information that readers and those in the industry may be looking for after your promotional efforts have paid off. It should also include a way to contact you, so that future opportunities may develop. A website should have static, easily navigable information that provides detailed information effortlessly, and should be designed to appeal to your target audience.

 

Blogging

A blog helps writers connect with their readers, the industry and those interested in the topics you write about. A blog can be used to display your expertise in specific subjects that relate to your work, or in writing itself, further legitimising you as an author. The posts should be written in a professional manner, much like your books, so that visitors can assess the quality of your work. Unlike a website, a blog doesn’t necessarily supply static information, and therefore should be updated regularly to keep readers returning, and also providing a link to your website, where potential readers can find out more about you, and purchase your work.

 

Video Media

With advances in technology, book trailers and video media are fast becoming a popular medium to promote your work. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast. It has been found that the average internet user will remain on a website around eighty percent longer if there is a video to view. Videos have also seen the largest rise as a piece of sharable media, meaning your book trailer can be shared all over the world 24/7.

An ever increasing amount of people browse the web via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text may be too daunting and perhaps too small to read. Book trailers are great ways to gain instant attention, tempting visitors to look further and stay longer, as well as share with ease on social media. There are other options for video media apart from book trailers that authors can also consider. Anything from website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

 

Podcasts

Following on from video media, podcasts are another effective, interactive way to promote online. Audio interviews, reviews or discussions with authors and industry professionals can all stir up interest, giving you a voice in your field of work. It is also another highly shared form of media, meaning that you can reach a far wider audience than would ever be achievable in isolation. It is also very easy to produce and doesn’t require much technical know-how.

 

Social Media

Connecting with readers and others in the book world online gives you valuable visibility and enables you to network in a way authors from the past would have never imagined possible. You can use it to share your work with readers, discuss being a writer with other authors, as well as opening the door to new opportunities. Agents and publishers freely admit to searching for potential new authors online, and in some cases, such as Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh, even accept pitches’ via Twitter.

There is an etiquette with social media that many authors are yet to grasp. Although it is a valuable promotional tool, simply shouting ‘Buy my Book’ and providing a link is a poor marketing strategy. Instead, providing snippets and links to reviews, links to your blog and video media is a much less demanding, but effective way to gain genuine curiosity.

As with any marketing, too many authors make the mistake of producing poor promotional material, with little design or production experience. It’s always good to remember that being an independent author isn’t necessarily about doing everything yourself, but about surrounding yourself with experts and creating a strong team and investing where it counts.

Book Trailers and Video Media – Why They Are Increasingly Effective

Over the last decade the internet, how we use it and when we use it has changed dramatically, and this has meant that every industry across the world has had to adjust. The publishing industry has been no exception. In fact, as an industry that relies heavily on appearance and technology itself, it has had to be more vigilant than others in order to keep up with digital modifications. Even over the last few years, huge changes have meant that publishing in the digital world has become even easier, but making a success of your work is just as challenging as ever.

Online promotion can be one of the least expensive, but most effective tools that any writer can utilise in what has become an overcrowded marketplace. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest in your work. In a world where people visit websites whilst shopping, scroll through social media during television adverts or read a blog on their way home from work, everyone is increasingly busy and increasingly impatient. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a much more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast.

With that being the case, video media and subsequently, book trailers, have become more and more popular, but are still unbelievably held with some skepticism, and that is due mostly by the amount of poorly produced examples there are being shared online. Many authors with little design or production skills put simple slideshows together themselves, or have friends or fans send them in. This gives many authors the advantage of still being able to stand out from the crowd with a professional video.

Book trailers bring your work to life in a way that many authors often dream about. They can also give readers a great impression of professionalism and much like a movie trailer, is designed to visually stimulate. With visual elements on the internet bringing in far more attention than those websites without, book trailers can now play a huge role in your visibility online, and its ultimate success. It has been found that statistically the average internet user will remain on a website around eighty percent longer if there is a video to view. Videos have also seen the largest rise as a piece of sharable media, meaning your book trailer can be shared all over the world 24/7. If you are having trouble conveying the message of your book, or gaining the attention you feel it deserves, a book trailer may be a good option to explore.

Part of the reason why information online needs to be delivered in a different methods now, is due to the varying way internet browsers are viewing the web. An ever increasing amount of people browse via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text just became too daunting and perhaps too small to read. Book trailers are great ways to gain instant attention, tempting visitors to look further and stay longer. Most readers won’t fully read the lengthy reviews and information that some websites try to share online. Instead, they want snappy information delivered with greater ease. These visitors therefore need to be fed details in a much more graphic medium, without inundating them with text, and that is why book trailers and video media are still on the rise.

There are other options for video media apart from book trailers that authors can also consider. Anything from website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

Website introductions are just that, a short video, usually featuring the author, welcoming visitors to their website and speaking about their work. This can replace, or work alongside the text that usually appears on a website home page, giving visitors the option. Videos of this nature, much like book trailers should be around one minute in length. At that length, a video receives the highest amount of viewers watching until completion. One minute sounds like a very short window in order to get your message across, but you will be amazed how much can be communicated in this time. This type of video media also has an added bonus of ‘meeting’ the author, which readers have always admitted to being intrigued about. Being able to put a face to the name and making your brand and website memorable has huge advantages for any future work, tempting visitors back again and again. And remember, it’s not just your website that can utilise video media; it can be shared across your entire online platform, including social media, as well as being played at book launches or other events. Approximately sixty-four percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching video promotion, with marketing professionals reporting that video converts better than any other medium.

There are many versions of book trailers, interviews or other forms of video media out there that have been put together poorly and unprofessionally, and like any piece of promotion, it needs to remain professional in order to gain the right attention and not deter from your work. It need not be expensive either; a professional book trailer varies in price, but something effective can be found for as little as £95. However not all companies that offer the service maintain a high quality, so be sure to view some samples of their previous work and discuss any requirements prior to instructing anyone.

This explosive growth in video popularity is allowing authors to reach a huge audience, deepening that all important connection between author and reader and keeping your name at the forefront of their consideration.

This article was originally published on the Bloomsbury Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website at https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/901/self-publishing/marketing-and-publicity/

How Your Online Platform Can Take You From Self-Published to Securing a Major Publishing Deal

2BE7EDDB00000578-3219546-image-m-9_1441198840264You may remember a month or so ago, a children’s book made headlines, claiming to guarantee sending your children to sleep at bedtime, and today, it has made headlines again, after it was announced that Penguin Random House have snapped it up, and is due for release in October.

Author, Carl-Johan Forssen’s story, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, started its journey as a self-published book, which was translated into English last year, using Amazon’s self-publishing system, Createspace. After reaching No.10 on the Amazon book chart, it began at times outselling high-profile titles such as Go Set a Watchman and Grey.

Many writers now start out as indie authors, either consciously or not, hoping a major publishing house may pick up their work after the success of ‘going it alone’. Whether you admit it or not, it’s every writers dream to have their work read by a wider audience. Today’s news seems to reiterate the point that I make on a regular basis, that mainstream publishing houses are clearly listening to what the market is doing, even outside the bigger works.

The managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s UK, Francesca Dow, said in a statement: ‘We’re thrilled to be publishing The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep—a phenomenon that’s grabbing people’s attention all around the world.

‘We are excited now to be bringing this book to an even bigger audience here in the UK and internationally.

‘As a publisher we want to publish books that speak to people and have the power to support them.

‘This book is very clearly doing that.’

I have seen many authors wanting to achieve this dream, only to fall at the last hurdle for one reason or another. When speaking with authors at events, many are surprised to hear that agents and publishers may research them online prior to making any offers. It’s easier than you may think for publishers and agents to find your details and review how you interact with your audience. This can be done over social media, via interviews, or looking at your own website. This is a vital reason why your online platform should display outward professionalism and encourage the confidence of not just readers, but clearly industry professionals too. If you do not have a website or an online presence at all, publishers and agents can view this as a significant negative against your name. It will take more work in marketing terms to publicise you and your work if you refuse to embrace what is probably the least expensive, but most effective platform for publicity in today’s market.

It also means that publishers or agents may find it extremely difficult to even find your contact details in order to discuss future opportunities with you. The publishing industry is no longer simply about sending in submissions and waiting to hear back. This story demonstrates how the professionals are keeping their ear to the ground and seeking out future titles. If you cannot be easily found, you may be missing out on advancing your writing career.

If you look at Carl-Johan Forssen’s website you will see a very well presented site that immediately conveys legitimacy and professionalism in his field of work. We don’t know whether Random House took note of his online platform or not, but it would have certainly added to their confidence in him as a professional and an author if they had.

It’s never too early to assess whether you could present yourself more effectively online, and if you’re looking for advice or a friendly critique, please get in touch by email (contact@authordesignstudio.com) or via Twitter (@authordesigner).

15 Great and Easy Ways to Promote Your Book Online

20130430-133534

There is one question in the publishing universe that has, and always will linger on author’s minds; how to promote and sell more books. With the publishing world changing continuously, marketing has had to evolve very quickly alongside it, with the eBook meaning the most dramatic changes publishing has ever seen. Whereas before, books were printed, launched with a grand launch party and then left to sell of its own back until the print run was sold-out, eBooks will now stay ‘in-print’ for far longer, and therefore an author’s promotion needs to be longer lasting and more accessible.

Promotion can be expensive, and can out-date fairly quickly. This is why online promo is so popular with all authors, be it mainstream or self-publsihed. Not only can it reach a far wider audience than an author could ever hope to achieve in isolation, it is easily ‘updatable’. If you refuse to dive into the online marketing world, you are essentially cutting off the main artery to your audience.

That being said, here is a list of fantastic ideas to get your book promoted online. Some are an investment but a lot are free.

1. Build a Professional Author Website – not only can it be designed solely around you and your work, which means attracting your readers, but it acts as the central base for all online promotion to lead to, allowing you to gain your target audience’s attention and then sell sell sell.

2. Set Up Twitter & Facebook Accounts – you may dislike it or simply not understand it yet, but interacting with readers on social media is a sure-fire way to reach potential readers in real-time, giving them the most up-to-date information possible. Have a 24 hour giveaway competition, or perhaps your book is on special offer for a short time? Then this is the place to tell everyone about it.

3. Set Up a Blog – If writing is your passion, why not blog about it? Readers, other authors and the industry in general are all interested in your writing journey. You can blog about the process of writing, the topics in your books or general life as an author, giving your readers a ‘human touch’ to your work.

4. Goodreads Giveaway – A freebie is a great way to gain interest and reviews of your work. Doing a giveaway on Goodreads means gaining interest from a wider reading audience which you may not have access to on your own. You need to be approved as an author by Goodreads, but this is well worth the effort.

5. Interact on Social Media – Commenting and replying on posts that are related to the topics in your book, or on writing can be a great way to gain a reputation as an expert in your genre and industry.

6. Free Excerpts – Posting free extracts of your book online (on your website is ideal) can give readers a great taster of your work. Adding a link at the end of each extract to buy your book makes it incredibly easy for readers to buy the whole book there and then.

7. Book Trailer – Make or ask a professional to build a book trailer. Visual promotion is far more popular than any other in today’s market and can hold potential reader’s attention for longer than static content. When done properly, a book trailer can also create an impression of professionalism and can be used across many online platforms.

8. ‘How-to’ Videos – If your book has a theme or topic that can be discussed in depth, create some ‘how-to’ or discussion videos for readers who have finished your book,or to entice those who haven’t yet.

9. Newsletter Sign-up – Embed a newsletter sign-up form on your website so that interested readers can receive periodical emails with your latest news. Interestingly newsletters have gone out of fashion in recent years, with too many junk emails clogging up people’s inbox’s. However, your name appearing in their inbox from time to time (whether they open the email or not) is enough to create a strong familiarity, so when they are looking for a new book, they may just look you up.

10. Guest Blog Posts – Whether these are interviews or discussions on your latest book, ensure you include a link back to your website where readers can gain more information and the all important retail links.

11.  Website URL – As mentioned in the above point, adding your website address wherever possible will mean a far higher chance of potential readers buying your book. Place a link to your website in your email signature too, along with any awards, nominations or other ‘selling’ statuses. The more places your website is listed online, the better your SEO (Search Engine Optimism) will also become.

12. Reader Photos – Ask readers to send you photos of them reading your book. This can create a lot of fun competition. I have seen images of people reading on the edge of mountains, in pools or hanging from trees! This can be a great piece of promo for children’s authors. Once you have these you can post the best on social media and your website. Perhaps run a competition for the best photo?

13. Taster Readings – There were days when readers would gather in a library or bookshop for an author reading, but this is not always possible for every author. Why not create videos/podcasts of yourself reading taster sections of your book that you can display online.

14. Run a Virtual Book Tour – Just like guest blogging, you can run a virtual book tour, enabling you to get your book infront of readers across the world. Find and agree with half a dozen to a dozen blogs or websites that are happy to receive you, to discuss your books. Offering exclusives, such as giveaways, question and answer sessions or free excerpts can entice readers to ‘follow’ you across the internet from website to website – just remember to mention where you’ll be appearing next either on your website, or if they are happy to do so, the end of each guest tour post.

15.  Online Campaigning – Create a hum around your book. If it’s personal, which others may benefit from reading, whether your book or from listening to your journey, ensure you tell everyone about it. I know many authors who write to conquer depression, or write about illness that either they or their family has suffered in order to just get through the day. Some may call it the ‘sob-story’ tactic, but I call it giving a voice to your personal battles or those of others.

Obviously not everyone can manage all of these, but concentrating on just a few can show you a significant difference in not only sales (although they are important) but to general interest in your work. Try them out and let us all know how you get on!

Author Design Studio – Website & book cover design

Author Design Studio features on a fantastic new Indie Author Review Exchange website, put together by author, Paul Ruddock. A fantastic idea and a community full of support and encouragement.

Indie author support & Discussion

http://www.authordesignstudio.com/

Beyond The Law - the cover 2904pr1aimeebell2pr2

An author faces ever-increasing expectations in today’s book market. In order to give you and your book/s the best possible success, Aimee Bell at Author Design Studio takes on that well known cliché, that books really are judged by their covers.

Professional, audience-targeted design and branding is critical to an author’s promotional success, and this is where I lend a helping hand. Professional author website design, book and ebook cover design are just the beginning. Working with many professionals in the industry, we provide a variety of services to help an author’s valuable visibility online.

***

“I first met Aimee Bell at a self-Publishing conference hosted by Troubador Publishing. Not being particularly technically minded, I had Aimee design a bespoke author website along with an eBook and print cover for my soon to be published short story collection. She took on board all my ideas and suggestions yet was…

View original post 111 more words