Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Publishing - How to Design A Book Cover Yourself

Book Publishing - How to Design A Book Cover Yourself  
by Glen Ford          

There are many elements of publishing a book yourself that is easy for a new self-publisher to do. There's little fear in such tasks as formatting your book for sale. Or in obtaining an ISBN. Or even in designing a website.

However, there are many elements of publishing a book yourself that scares the new self-publisher. The two which are most frightening -- and deservedly so -- are marketing and designing the book cover.

For the writer and small publisher, designing a book cover represents a major departure from our comfort zone. After all, we work with words. Our pleasure and fame comes from the structure of our words and the flow of those words through our ears.

And book design involves a completely different sense. A sense we may not be comfortable working with.

However, book design -- at its admittedly lowest level -- is not out of reach for the average author and self-publisher. There are six steps that you need to do to create a high quality book cover:

1. Start with a trip through a book store. A virtual one will do. Spend an hour or so visiting Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chapters/Indigo. Each of them has a display of the best sellers in various niches. Look through all of them. Are there any covers you really like? Are there any that stand out? Right click and save them to a single directory.

2. Now that you've got a set of book covers that you like, it's time to pick the top covers. So go through the collection of covers you've gathered. Start with the first three. Now look at the fourth book cover. Of the four which three do you like best? Keep going until you've gone through all the covers. You now have the top three covers you like. Print them out in full color using an ink jet printer (or color laser printer if you have one).

3. Pick out the book cover you like best. This will be the base for your cover.

4. Now recreate the book cover using a drawing tool like Corel or Adobe or one of the many free drawing tools out there. Use your title and name. Change the cover copy to match your cover copy.

5. If you used the cover as it stands that would be plagiarism. So now it's time to make it your cover. Start changing things. Change the colors. Reverse the colors. Use complementary colors - black and red for example. Change the photograph if there is one. Change the font. Pick one item and make a series of changes. Each time you change something check to see which you like better. Use that one as the base for your next change. When you finish your cover should look different from the original design. If not try it again. Save often.

6. Now save your cover and then import it into whichever cover generator you are using. You now have a cover suitable for posting to the web and also one suitable for your printing house.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Write First, Edit Later

Write First, Edit Later

You took too many English classes. Someone has told you that it’s more important to say it right than to say it at all.
Well, it is important to write correctly. It makes your communication clearer, and your reputation brighter. But it’s usually better to say what you mean poorly than to say nothing.

Why? Because once you write it, you can edit it. Or you can ask someone else to.
Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is garbage.” Well, garbage wasn’t the word he actually used, but you get the idea. If Hemingway, one of the most influential prose writers in the English language, thought that his first drafts were garbage, you should feel just fine if that’s what your first draft looks like. Garbage is honorable. It’s hard to improve on perfection, but it’s really easy to improve on garbage. Reading it again will give you all sorts of ideas for improvement.

But, you say, Ernest Hemingway had an editor who was paid to rework his stuff. What if you don’t have anyone to revise your writing, and you’re depressed by the thought of having to do it yourself?
Let your writing sit for a while. It may make more sense if you sleep on it. Or, it may make less sense after you have slept on it. At least you’ll know which.

Find someone to read it for you, to make suggestions, or even to edit it for you. You don’t need someone who is a great writer themselves. Sometimes it’s better to find someone with nothing more than a good head on their shoulders and the ability to read English words.
Ask questions. Any sensible person can tell you if he or she understood what you wrote. And if your reader didn’t understand, ask what her or she thought you said. That will give you ideas for improvement, I assure you, depending how far off the mark they were.

Run an ad in Craigslist, offering to pay someone a small sum to edit your writing. The ad is free, it’s easy to run, and the work can be done cheaply. You may find that you get what you pay for, but you can decide how much it’s worth to you.
Find a writing critique group. Writers groups are mostly for creative writers: poets, playwrights and novelists. But for business writing, you could ask someone in your local civic club or chamber of commerce for advice.

The point is to free yourself from the worry that you’re writing in stone. You’re not. Anything you say can and should be considered changeable.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Literary Terms You Should Know

In medias res: More than literary narratives use the in medias res device, which drops audiences straight into the middle of the action and builds upon the recent past as the tale unfolds.