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.

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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

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Don’t Go It Alone – Create A Successful Publishing Team

teamLast week I received a couple of emails from authors asking for updates to their websites. Nothing out of the ordinary for my line of work. Except that I suddenly realised that these two authors were in fact the very first authors I ever worked with, many years ago. I am proud to still be working with them and that we have built such a strong working relationship.

On the same day I read an article on the modern publishing industry and how creating good books is no longer about simply deciding on a publishing route and waiting for sales. In today’s marketplace there is a much bigger demand on authors, regardless of which path you choose. From design and social media to publicity and marketing; there are far more areas of expertise that a successful author will need to investigate in order to reach their target audience and make a success of their work. Surrounding yourself with a strong team from the outset and not attempting to do everything yourself can be the key to success.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” – Neil Gaiman

Whether due to time, lack of knowledge or financial constraints, authors are attempting to do what many professionals spend years training for. Book cover design, editing, publicity and marketing are all specialist areas. There is a cost to finding experts in these fields, however you will find that by surrounding yourself with a strong team will certainly make your life a lot easier, enabling you time to do what you do best and write. Remember that each individual expert you hire will be joining together to achieve one common goal: creating awareness of your book and ensuring it’s the best it can be. And it is this that ultimately means more sales and more readers. Remember that you are primarily an author, and unless you have a background in these areas, it can pay off in the long term to invest in some help. Once you have established these readers, it makes future work much easier to offer to market.

It can sometimes be a little trial and error in finding the right team. I work with many repeat authors, as well as working on many different projects with authors I’ve worked with in the past, and I’m proud to say that they would recommend me. I’ve also worked repeatedly with others in the book industry whom my authors praise highly. So that may be the best place to start – talk to other authors, or members of your existing team and ask if they have recommendations in the area you are researching. One thing I have learnt from being in the publishing industry for some years is that it’s not always the big companies that have the best reputations, but the smaller businesses and freelancers, so be sure to do your research.

“In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive.” – Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographical Design

Successful book publishing is about investing confidently in your work and building momentum. No reader will have the confidence that your work is good enough to read if you don’t. Building a successful relationship with experts will mean you have a group of professionals in your corner, furthering the connection between you as an author, and your readers.

A Quote On Writing That I Just Had To Share

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Ray Bradbury

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/

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).

8 Proven Ways to Attract More Visits to Your Author Website

WOMANThere is a myth floating in the minds of some writers out there, that once you have written the book and built your author website that the book will sell like hot cakes and you can sit back and simply enjoy the praise. Unfortunately this is not the case, and as an Indie author, it is down to you to market and push your book to reach its potential in what is a very overcrowded marketplace.

There are many tools online to help you achieve this, and with the bonus of social media and an author website, you can reach a market that would be impossible to reach in isolation. That being said, you need to make the most of what is possibly the best marketing tool you have. An author website is dedicated to you and your work. There is no competition and you can design it to attract your target market and update it as and when you need to. It should appear much like a ‘bonus DVD’, in that it offers information and ‘extras’ that cannot be found elsewhere. So to help you continue on the path to author success, here are 8 easy and proven ways to attract more visits (and repeat visitors) to your author website.

1. Deleted Scenes

Do you remember that really laborious editing process, where you deleted entire scenes that you may have realised weren’t entirely necessary? Well, don’t waste them! Put them aside, and once readers have finished your book, you can offer these ‘deleted scenes’ online to prolong their interest in your work.

2. Alternate Endings

Much like the deleted scenes, you may have tried several endings before deciding on the final edit. These can be really interesting for readers to see. If you’ve always had the same ending, why not have some fun yourself and write something totally different!

3. Short Stories

When a reader finds an author they really connect with and enjoy, they like to keep an eye on new and upcoming books. But of course writing a full book takes some time to complete, so why not keep their interest by offering an ‘interim’ story? It can be something completely different, or you can even include ‘spin-offs’ from existing characters. You can even theme them to different seasons. Imagining your characters around the Christmas season, or even taking a holiday.

A high percentage of readers admit that they visit author websites to read the free material, so why not take advantage and add it as a bonus for subscribing to a newsletter or similar? One thing to remember is that your short stories need to be edited to the same quality as your published works, otherwise you may put your readership off.

4. Exclusive Signed Copies of Your Book

One thing that Amazon (and other large retailers) cannot offer is a signed copy of your work. If you sell your books direct via your website, why not entice them to order from you rather than the easier option of a large online retailer and offer exclusive autographed copies of your book? Autographed copies make great gifts too.

5. Character Catch-up’s

This is something I came across when working with a children’s author. He very cleverly posted a transcript piece of his characters ‘chatting’ to him about the book and story. The author ‘interviewed’ them about different aspects of the events in the story. It was a very clever way of reiterating the important morals in his work, and very entertaining for his readers.

6. Competitions and Quizzes

Everyone likes to win at something, and if you have your reader’s attention on your website, then a competition to win a quiz or perhaps a competition in order to win something is an ideal way to gain contacts. You can even integrate this with your social media and offer a free signed copy of your book if the person ‘follows’ you on social media etc. It’s a great way to build interest and create a buzz around your website. It doesn’t need to be limited to your book though. You can offer book vouchers, or even something related to the book. One author I worked with recently gave away a necklace which featured on her book cover.

7. Articles

Everyone’s work speaks of some kind of experience or expertise, and this can be another way of reaching out to your audience. Whether you write fiction or non fiction, you can write articles about the topics of your work and knowledge. If there is no real ‘topic’ to discuss, why not talk about your writing journey, what you learnt along the way or even what research you performed in order to make your work accurate. One author I have worked with, who writes historical romance, creates mood boards for each book, including pictures of historic rooms and places, a map of the area where the book is based and portraits that suit the character she is trying to portray. Showing this to your readers can further build that author/reader connection.

8. Featured Reviews

If you’re gaining a good number of reviews, you could create a ‘featured review’ area, and encourage readers to send their thoughts by attracting them with a prize. At the end of each month you can announce a winner and ‘feature’ their review on your website and across your social media accounts.

I hope these hints and tips will help you attract more visitors to your website, but I’m always happy to hear more of your ideas. What do you do to gain website visitors? You can comment here or tweet me at @authordesigner with your experiences.