It’s a good job helping people publish their books, and it’s wonderful when you see them achieving success and winning awards. For many years now our authors have been entering the Global Ebook Awards, and in 2020 we’re thrilled to announce that seven of our authors have managed to snare ten awards between them! Our congratulations (in alphabetical order) go to:
If you search the internet for tips on book cover design, you’ll be inundated with blog posts telling you how important the cover is and why you have to spend good money on it yada, yada, yada. Sure, a crap cover will likely turn people off from investigating your book further, but I don’t care how fancy your cover is – if the book isn’t a good read, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the cover, you’ll never save it. So, first things first, write a good book! Then, when you’re thinking about your cover, don’t just focus on something glitzy and eye-catching. Consider your genre and the reader you’re trying to attract.
One of our authors, Helen Laing, has given us permission to re-use her name and book title to help illustrate what’s really important about your cover – and that’s conveying the message of what your book is all about! Helen’s book is called Circles of Fortune, and here’s the cover here:
What do you think Helen’s book might be about? If you’ve got good eyes or can zoom in, you’ll find the subtitle will probably give you a clue, but at first glance you’d get the idea that it’s about something historical. If you’re into history and of a time period suggested by the gentleman on the cover, then you’d possibly investigate more closely based simply on the cover, right?
So, what if Helen’s cover looked like this?
If you were interested in history you’d skip straight past it, right? But if you were interested in a little romance? Or a bit of an adventure with a female lead? Again, a cover like this would encourage you to look a little more closely, wouldn’t it?
But … what if Helen’s cover looked like this?
Now, that’s my kinda book! Something probably business-y or finance-related. I’d skip past the first two covers and look more closely at this. How about you? 😉
Don’t try to attract the wrong readers
So the most important thing with cover design is not spending a fortune, but making sure that your book ‘speaks’ to its potential audience.
And a word of warning here – please don’t try to attract a different type of audience by cheating with a cover which mis-represents your book. This will only backfire on you. I have actually had an author ask for something which was unrelated to their book because they wanted to expose their thoughts to a different type of reader. Not on, not going to work, nope. You’ll only antagonise them even if you can get them to buy, and – the stupid thing – you’re missing out on an audience who probably would be interested in your book!
Compare the meerkats
When you’re thinking about your cover, hop online and see what other covers in your genre look like. You don’t need to copy them, and please be careful not to use the same stock image as every other cover in your category (there’s a certain man out there in a purple kilt who pops up on soooooo many romance covers … must be a busy fellow 😉 ), but do try to do something original that still communicates what the other covers in your category or genre are communicating.
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Helen’s ‘real’ Circles of Fortune, is the fictionalised story of Thomas Braidwood Wilson who made nine voyages as a naval surgeon on convict ships before settling down as a pioneer farmer in the southern highlands of NSW. It’s available from your favourite online retailer or The MoshShop here: https://themoshshop.com.au/products/circles-of-fortune-by-helen-laing
In this new world of self publishing, it’s important to understand the differences between traditional, self and vanity publishing. But first we should start with a simple definition: What exactly is publishing?
The simple answer is: project management. The slightly more complex answer is: project management with a view to making a profit.
In the past, ‘traditional publishers’ would license a manuscript from an author. They would project manage turning that raw manuscript into a published book and as part of that process, they would also wear the cost and the risk.
In today’s world, there are less and less traditional publishers and it’s getting harder and harder to secure a publishing contract, leaving most people to self publish. Ergo… if you self publish, you’ll be managing the project and you’ll be wearing the financial risk!
So what is vanity publishing? This term was applied to most self publishing ventures until around 2010 when a separation began to take place in the public’s minds. With the advent of the Kindle, iPad and print on demand, the Ordinary Joe began to have access to great (and not-so-great!) books well outside the traditional publishing industry’s catalogue. As the public began to consume more and more self-published books, they also began to understand that just because something had been self published that didn’t mean it was crap. On the contrary, the public began to realise just how much they’d had withheld from them because so many stories and authors just didn’t fit the ideals of traditional publishers.
And as more and more self published books were consumed, the reading public also began to notice the differences in quality between those books which had been published with care by the author (having been edited, proofread, properly formatted or laid out, cover professionally designed), and those which hadn’t had the same level of care applied. Consequently, those books which get released without certain standards being applied by the author are referred to disparagingly as ‘vanity publications’.
To publish a book with some level of care is costly – hence the void traditional publishing houses played in the past. But in today’s world, less and less traditional publishers can afford to take the risks they used to, so if you can’t get a publishing contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean your book is crap, it just means the publishing house can’t see a way to make money out of it. And while I have seen people riled up about not getting a contract, they seem to forget that these publishing houses are in business, and if they don’t make money, they’ll soon be out of business!
But at least today you have affordable options as far as self publishing goes. You don’t need to print 2,000 copies and try to ship them to bookstores – you can use print on demand supply chains with retailing via the internet, worldwide. Or you can skip the print part and just release an ebook. Or add the print version later if you find the ebook making money for you.
And you don’t have to go it alone. With businesses like IndieMosh you can have people do as much or as little as you need help with.
So welcome to the 21st century and to what I hope will be your self publishing journey, and not a vanity publishing one! 😉