Archive for self publishing

Book Cover Design Resources and Tips for Sci-Fi/Fantsay Authors

Posted in Book Art, Miscellaneous, Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Starfire Dragons Book Cover

For the self-publishing author, book cover designing can be tricky. It’s not as simple as finding art online and using it. You have to make sure it’s the right size and you have to pay for use of the image. Nor is it as simple as having a friend drawn and/or design your cover. You have to make sure you leave room for the book title and other factors. The first part of this post gives ideas on where to find book cover designers or buy art already made and for sale. The second part of this post gives you important tips in creating or selecting a design. This entire post is specific to sci-fi and fantasy authors.

Where to find art for your book cover design:

  • Freelance artists – Find a book cover designer on sites like reedsy.com, fiverr.com, and other freelance sites. Keep in mind that though the cost might seem like a bargain, you get what you pay for. Every once in a while, though, you can get both a good price and a great cover.
  • Public domain art – My sci-fi book cover is made partially from public domain images from NASA. You can also find public domain art on Wikimedia Commons, the Library of Congress, and National Archives.
  • Stockphotos – All my fantasy novels used art from a stock photo site. My favorites are Bigstockphoto.com, 123rf.com, shutterstock.com, istockphoto.com. Be sure to read the usage rights on these. Some do not allow for use on book covers. Or if they do allow book cover use, they charge a lot more. Count on spending at least $50 for the image. The average I paid was $100.
  • Online art galleries – Deviantart is my favorite source for finding sci-fi and fantasy artists. If you see art you like, you might be able to buy it outright. Or if you see a style you like, you might be able to commission the artist. Not all artists are book cover designers so you will have to be specific in what size you need and the placement of your title and other text.
  • Contact an art school – Contact the art school’s illustration and design department to see if they are interested in a project. Offer to support the school in some way as a form of payment.
  • Ask a friend – This is what I ended up doing for my first sci-fi novel. If you don’t know an artist, ask your writer friends who they used for their art.

Dragonbone Chair ebook cover The Dragon and the Lion by Dawn Ross

Tips for making a good book cover design:

  • The image for your book cover design should be large and at least 300 dpi. This will be especially helpful if you plan on printing physical books rather than e-books. This will also be helpful for if you need to crop or re-size the image for other uses. I understand a lot of publishers want the image in .pdf format, but I’ve had no trouble using the .jpg format. You should have no trouble saving it in both formats.
  • The book cover image should have thumbnail appeal. The image can’t be so busy that viewers on a computer screen can’t tell what’s on the cover. I like how the ebook version of Tad Williams’ book The Dragonbone Chair is just a simple sword.
  • The image should be relevant without being cheesy. Again, I reference the cover for The Dragonbone Chair. Its simple design isn’t just easy to see in a thumbnail, it also indicates the book is a fantasy.
  • When combining two different images, make sure they work cohesively together and not cut-and-paste. My cover on The Dragon and the Lion is made from two separate images that I edited so that the color scheme matched and they look like they belong together.
  • Stick to classic fonts. You can be a little creative if you like, but don’t overdo it. And make sure that if you do get a little creative with your font that it is relevant to your book.
  • There should be room in the art for text placement. If you’re cover is of a warrior or something, make sure the book title can be seen without having to cover the warrior’s face or other important elements of the cover.
  • Don’t forget the back cover. If you have art for the back cover, make sure it is simply a continuation of the front cover and doesn’t introduce new elements or styles. Or you can simply use a solid color for the back cover.

That’s all I have for now. Where do you get your book cover art? Do you have any tips for making a good book cover design?

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Expenses to Expect when You are Self-Publishing Your Novel

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Writing a novel is not easy. But if you’ve done it and you think it’s a worthwhile read, you have a new difficult task ahead of you – getting it published.

There are many ways to get your novel published. They are the traditional way, self-publishing, and numerous ways in between. This article is about the newest and easiest way to get published—self-publishing.

Although self-publishing is the easiest way to get published, it is the most difficult for getting your name out there because you also have to self-market. And although it is often relatively free to self-publish, if you truly want your work to get read and possibly even popular, you will need to be prepared for certain expenses.

  1. Writing Supplies – This is an expense you will have whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. Writing supplies can include a computer, software, notebooks, notecards, pencils, etc. Costs may vary depending on your wants and needs.
  2. Beta Readers – Beta readers are the most basic type of reviewers. They are your friends, family, or other informal readers. They can help you find plot holes and minor errors. They can tell you which characters, scenes, chapters, and other things they like most or dislike the most. Keep in mind that these types of reviewers are not likely to provide a professional opinion and some of their feedback may even be wrong. Also, their opinions may be biased. Family and friends will probably do this for free, but if you want more objective reviewers you may want to offer an incentive to people who are not friends or family. I’ve paid between $50 and $100 per beta reader.

    I found some decent beta readers on Simbi.com. On Simbi, I exchanged services rather than paid them. They read and critiqued my book and, in exchange, I offered to do some art work for them. If you can provide a special skill, maybe accounting, dieting coach, or pet training advice, for example, you can offer your skills in return for beta readers. Keep in mind that some of the people you solicit will not follow-through. But at least all you’ve lost is time.

  1. Content Editing Service – Unless you’ve already had training as a writer, a content editor is a must. They not only provide an objective review, they also provide a more detailed review. They can tell you exactly what you’re doing right as well as exactly what you’re doing wrong. They will understand more about whether your book will capture a reader’s interest and keep their interest. They will be able to find plot holes better. The will tell you how to build your characters better, your scenes, and so many other things.

    I can’t stress the importance of this enough. When I wrote the first draft of my sci-fi, I knew and beta readers knew it wasn’t as good as it could be. But we weren’t knowledgeable enough to know what could be done to fix it. My content editor saved me. I think my book is ten times better now than it was originally, thanks to her feedback. Her services cost me about $500. And just so I can have a second opinion on the rewrite, I’ve hired another content editor for about the same cost.

    One thing about a content editor, they will be bluntly honest about your book. It will be very difficult to hear. You will want to get defensive about their opinions. But don’t. Listen. Listen to everything they say. Write it down. Then take a step back and think about it for a week or two. If you can learn not to take their advice personally, you will become a much better writer.

  1. Line Editing Service – A line editor will look for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Nothing is more irritating than reading a self-published book and finding dozens and dozens of errors. Hiring a line editor is very important for self-publishers. I’ve recently paid about $500, but the person was in my writer’s group and was doing a favor. I believe the service can cost much more.
  2. Art – You will need a book cover for your book. And unless you are an artist, you will need to pay someone else to do it for you. Although I am an artist, my specialty is not in sci-fi art so I’ve paid an artist to do my book cover. It cost me about $100 this time but I’ve seen sci-fi artists charge as much as $500 or more. I’ve also found art on photo sites. These look deceptively cheap so be sure to read their guidelines. Most photo sites require you to pay $100 or more if you plan on using the photo or art as a book cover.
  3. Publishing – Although it is possible to get your book published for free on some sites, such as Create Space or through Amazon’s e-book publishing service, other places may charge you. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. So while Amazon and Create Space is free, your only exposure for selling your book is on Amazon’s website. Plus, some writers believe the Create Space publishing format is not all that great. Other publishing sites can charge $50 or more to set up your book so that it can be available for print on demand. And they may also charge you for an ISBN, which is something all books will need before you can sell them. An ISBN can cost about $100 or so, I believe.
  4. Marketing – Since you are self-publishing, you really need to do a lot of work in order to market your book. There are so many ways to market and so marketing costs may vary. Here are just a few marketing ideas:

    -When selling on Amazon, Smashwords, or other online book-selling websites, make sure you use good keywords and that your book description, or synopsis, is very appealing for would-be readers.
    -You can pay for online ads on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
    -You can run your own blog and website, which may cost you in hosting services. If you have your own blog or website, you may need to spend a lot of time optimizing these sites so that they can be found ahead of other writers’ blogs and websites. Be careful about companies who say they can do this for you. They will charge you, but their practices do not always live up to their promises.
    -You can promote your book at book stores, which means you need to pay for a supply of books to keep on hand. Independently owned book stores may agree for you to do a book signing at their store.
    -Depending on your genre, you can pay for a booth at comicons, expo-shows, or local events. I have a friend who is rather successful at selling his books at comicons. But the booths are very expensive. Over time, he’s learned to supplement his book sale income with sales on t-shirts, art, mugs, and other things which have pictures of his book cover art on them.
    -You can try to find people to review your book and post their opinions on their own blog or website. This can backfire, though, if they give you a bad review. Some people will ask for small compensation for their time. Be careful with this because a paid review can come across as biased.

These are the expenses I’ve encountered in self-publishing so far. There could be others. I’ve heard of some people paying the self-publishing sites for additional services. This could be helpful for you, especially if you don’t know how to do something yourself. And despite your expenses, there is no guarantee that you’ll make the money back. Selling books is hard work. But at least you will have the good feeling of finally getting your novel published.

Self-Publishing Your Book on Amazon & CreateSpace

Posted in Publishing with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Writing a book is a very difficult task. The better you want your book to be, the more difficult it is to write. Getting your book published used to be just as difficult, but not anymore. Amazon makes self-publishing your book as an ebook very easy. CreateSpace, which can be accessed through Amazon, makes publishing your book as a paperback just as easy.

Formatting Your Ebook
This was the most difficult part for me. It is not as easy as downloading your word document. Your files have to be in a certain format. For the ebook, you don’t want to use tabs. You want to use indents. Centering should be set up in styles rather than paragraph. Don’t justify your paragraphs. Don’t use page breaks, page numbers, headings, or footnotes. There are a few other things to consider as well. The best way to figure out how to format for an ebook is to go through this step-by-step process from Smashwords. Download free instructions on Smashwords by clicking HERE. Incidentally, you can also sell your ebook on Smashwords.

Formatting Your Paperback
Creating the document for your paperback is much easier. Most of the things you don’t want to do in the ebook format can be done in the paperback format. The most difficult part I had was the page numbers. You don’t put page numbers or headings on the ebook version, but you definitely want them on the paperback version. You want page 1 to start on the first page where your story starts so you have to set up your word document to start counting page one on page 7, for example. You can also have headings where the left pages show the author’s name and the right pages show the book title. Or the left page says the book title and the right page says the chapter name. The tricky part is getting all the left pages to say one thing and all the right pages to say another. Your page numbers can be centered in the footing. Play around with your book until it looks like what you want it to look like. Then download it onto CreateSpace.

CreateSpace
CreateSpace takes you through the download process. It also lets you preview how each page of your book will look. Flip through each page to make sure it looks right. If it doesn’t, fix it in word and download it again.

Book Covers
Ebooks and CreateSpace also have different formats for the book covers. When you go through the process of creating your ebook or paperback, be sure to look carefully at the instructions for the proper size and format. Ebook covers are smaller in size while paperbacks require a larger size with a higher dpi. This is because an ebook is viewed on a smaller digital screen which generally requires a dpi no higher than 72. A paperback book is larger and the dpi should be at least 300. Don’t forget, on your paperback version you will want to make sure there is room for the ISBN and barcode.

Traditional Publishing v. Self-Publishing
Before, publishing your book required soliciting an agent. One could solicit hundreds of literary agents and possibly never finding one, or risk finding one that took advantage of rather than helped a new author. If you are lucky enough to find a good literary agent, you have to wait for the agent to solicit a willing publisher. This could take several months, or even years. Or your agent might never find a willing publisher. Self-publishing guarantees your book will be published. But it doesn’t guarantee your book will sell. The benefit of having a literary agent and a publisher publish your book is they do all the marketing and distribution. Once you get a publisher, you just sit back and wait. With self-publishing, you have to do all the marketing yourself. This can take a lot of time and money, and a possibility of little return.

Whether you self-publish or choose the traditional method is a personal choice. For me, I tried the traditional method but found it exceedingly difficult to get my foot in the door and unfortunately found a bad literary agent. Instead of trying the traditional method again, I chose self-publishing because it was more important to me to get my book published than it was to make money and have wider distribution.

Find a Literary Agent or Self-Publish my Books?

Posted in Publishing with tags , , on February 11, 2011 by Dawn Ross

Three books of the Dukarian Legacy are written, but none are published.  There is nothing available to read on line yet.  There is no paper version to order.  So what’s next?  Publish it, of course.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  How do I publish it?  Do I pursue a literary agent again?  Do I try submitting directly to publishers such as Tor (as suggested by one of my blog followers)?  Do I self-publish online?

Benefits of Getting a Literary Agent
By having a literary agent represent me, I save a lot of work and can focus on writing more books.  I have many more stories in my head – The Guardian of Destiny, Hunt of the Darkblood, and at least nine more idea sequals to the Dukarian Legacy.  A literary agent will work on getting the publisher who will then work on the promotion of my books.  I won’t have to read up on self-publishing or marketing.  I won’t have to worry about the technical side of the book such as ISBN numbers, the book cover illustration, and so on.

Disadvantages of a Literary Agent
Lesson learned – do not pay a literary agent up front.  What else do I not know?  What other hard lessons are there for me to learn?  Literary agents and publishers also get a big cut.  That can be worthwhile if I don’t have to deal to much with the technical issues and marketing.  The biggest disadvantage of a literary agent, however, is finding a good literary agent to begin with.  I’m sure there are a lot of good ones out there but competition is stiff.  I am not the only person out there who has written a book that they want to get published.  I could have the best synopsis and my first three book chapters could be flawless.  But agents and publishers have to look through hundreds of them.  They may not even look at most manuscripts because perhaps they are not interested in my particular genre at that particular moment in time.  Then, what if I do get an agent and a publisher for my book?  They may want to make changes.  They know best about what will sell but do I really want to change the story to fit the masses?

Benefits of Self-Publishing
I can have 100% complete control over all aspects of my book.  I can design my own cover, keep the story just the way I like it, and keep all my own profits.  I have to admit that this has great appeal.  I am an artist so I can work on designing my own cover.  If that doesn’t work, I can save up to hire a graphic artist.  And I am already familiar with online marketing and social networking.  Also, since there is no guarantee that I will even find a literary agent or publisher, self-publishing guarantees that I get my books published.  What good are they doing right now sitting on my shelf?

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing
Self-publishing sounds really good until I consider all the aspects that have to go into self-publishing.  Do I self-publish online?  Do I build a website to sell my book or sell through e-publishers?  Do I get a paperbook published from sites such as Lulu.com?  If I do paperbooks, I have to worry about storage and finding distributors.  Building a website and online marketing may be easy for me but other aspects of marketing such as getting trade reviews, news releases, book fairs, etc.  All this will cost money up front.  And if I fall short in my marketing, I could stand to lose money instead of make money.  It doesn’t just cost money, it also takes time.  Finding the time is really difficult.

Can I do both?  Can I market my book online in PDF format while also looking for a literary agent or publisher?  Some sources say no while other say yes.    I’ve heard that some publishers prefer you have a fan base before they take the risk of publishing.  But I’ve also heard that others don’t want any version of your book out because they want all sales to go through them.  The world of publishing books is changing dramatically with the Internet.  Can I self-promote an e-book, then remove it for sale if I find a publisher?