Book Covers

Be Prepared

The Boys Scouts’ motto is “be prepared.” But I failed several times this year. What about you?

With the recent release of Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, published by Parchment and Plume, I realized I was not prepared.

(The anthology includes two novellas – Ruth’s The Purchased Bride and mine She Came by Train. The story is where two women meet on a train traveling from Virginia to Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. They live separate lives but keep in contact. The Purchased Bride is a mail-order bride story. Who is this quiet man Ada is to marry? Janet’s character, Opal, becomes a governess of a widower’s two children. Two men vie for her affections. She Came by Train will she return that way?)

But writing She Came by Train took many late nights and wee morning hours to finish. Because of this, I did not update my social-media sites before the anthology was released in e-book. I failed. My only salvation is all will be completed before the paperback Feb. 1 release.

Thus think ahead. If you have a book coming out, update your social-media profiles BEFORE your book is released. Doing so, acquaints people with you, your book and its cover, such as our anthology.

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One good thing I learned from Ruth is to publish excerpts of your work-in-progress on your blog and post on social media. Readers become acquainted with your work, and it entices them to purchase the product once done. This is an excellent marketing tool.

Also, respond to blog comments. In this way, you show you value the commenter’s input. Remember online interactions build relationships as do  personal ones.

How else can you be prepared? Goals help. Some people do longterm goals, such as when a book will come out and more. I do a little of this but not as intense as others. I will sit down in January and incorporate realistic expectations in completing my Cameos and Carriages, a prequel novel to Lockets and Lanterns, which was released in 2012.

However, more valuable to me is my short-term list. What do I wish to accomplish this week? A weekly planner (another great Ruth tip) sits beside my computer.

The small calendar allows you to see a week at a glance. I jot down my daily entries in pencil. Using a pencil is a great idea since if the day goes haywire you can erase and move that entry to another day. My entires include when to submit stories, join or rejoin organizations, write blogs, post work-in-progress excerpts and re-examine certain e-mails to better digest their contents.

How do I know what e-mails to re-examine? I star them in my e-mail system. There are days, as everyone of you knows, where you do not have time to study a confusing or lengthy e-mail. By placing a star beside it, you can return to it on a date where you have more time. I do this also with Facebook birthdays. If I do not have time to wish a person a Happy Birthday, I can return to it a day later as long as it does not pass their birthdate.

Well, I think I have said enough. Remember to be prepared. However, also remind yourself that you will fail at this. You are human by the way. Have a great new year and may the Lord richly bless you in 2014.

Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Covers, Book Promotion, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, Social Networking, The Reader, The Writer & Author, Writing Partnerships | Tags: , , ,

How to Use KDP’s Cover Creator

The other day I posted How to Publish in KDP and mentioned that I would cover how to use the new KDP Cover Creator. Here is that post.

(Click images for full size if you need to)

If you want to know how we got to this step, please check the previous post, otherwise I am going to assume you’re right with us at the “add a cover” stage.

Click the “cover creator” button.

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This may bring you a pop up. Depending on what you’ve been doing to your book, you may want a different option, but we want to save our changes so we don’t have to enter all the info again.

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A little box with an orange swirly will pop up. depending on your connection speed it may sit there swirling for a long time, or a very short time. My net was running good tonight so it went fast.

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When cover creator first opens it will have a “how to” splash screen that doesn’t really tell you much of anything. Feel free to click “don’t show me this again” and then click continue.

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Now we have some more options. First we’re going to try browsing their gallery. I don’t really recommend doing this because if you’re using that image, who else is? But, we can take a look because those pictures are free and can always be a good cover placeholder until we get some cash or find a free image elsewhere.

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You’ll get a pop up with photo categories. Browse through them and see if there’s something you like. I am going to choose Black and White.

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This opens a selection of black and white photos. Let’s scroll through and find something creepy and/or mystical, shall we?

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Once you’ve selected a picture, click on it. This will bring up an image overview and a bigger version. If you don’t want it after all, then click on the category name in the upper left to go back to the thumbnails. If you do like it, then click “use this image”.

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The page beneath the pop up now loads with a bunch of design options. If you see one you like, feel free to “choose this design”

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Personally, I am going to try uploading my own image now, so I am heading to the “choose new cover image” option.

This pops up the image screen we started with. This time I am going to select “upload my own image”. Note: Images should be .jpg or .tiff and should be between 1000 and 2500 on the longest side.

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Click the cheery computer icon to get a browse dialog box. Navigate to the image you’d like to use and click open

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You’ll get another orange circle that may take a long time to disappear, or may go away fast, depending on your connection speed.

Once it loads you’ll see we have those same design options again

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This time we’re going to actually commit to this image and choose a design. Of course, you don’t have to. You can continue to upload and/or browse until you find something you like. Then, choose a design when you’re ready.

You’ll notice there are options that require no picture. If you choose one of these, you still get to edit the colors, text, and layout. Since those tools are EXACTLY the same as the cover with photos, I’m not going to do a separate section for that. You can use the following steps for either the image layouts or the non-image layouts.

Hover over the design of choice so that it says “Choose this design”, then click on it.

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A new screen loads. 

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You’ll want to close the tool tip box by hitting the x. Remember that you can change designs at any time by choosing “Start Over” or change your image by choosing a new one.

KDP has automatically put the title in for us, including the “short” that I added, which in this case looks silly. So I am going to close it out (by hitting the x in the upper right corner of the cover creator), change the title and go back in. Half a tick.

Back.

I changed the title, but it made no difference, as the cover creator refused to update. Since I am not going to use this cover it doesn’t matter for me, but if you plan to use it, make SURE your title is the way you want it before you hit that cover creator button.

There are lots of things to edit here. Let’s start with the fonts.

You can either use the Font Tool, which lets you choose from pre-made “themes”:

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OR you can hover directly over the text you want to edit:

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And then click to get a box of options

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Here we can change the font by clicking the arrow and choosing a new one

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The size (including an auto fit option)

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Change the color:

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Make the words Bold, Italic and drop a shadow behind them (useful on lighter backgrounds)

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And change the position (Justify, left align, center, right align)

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As you may notice, I centered mine and changed the font and the size, but left it white.

Now you can do the same for the author (you can see an example of drop shadow on it) and if you have a subtitle (alas, I don’t).

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What about those other buttons? Let’s play with the layout next.

When you click on it in the tools, you’ll get a string of layout options:

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Click through them to see the differences. When you find one you like, click on the layout tool again to make the strip go away. Sadly, I like the original best, so I am sticking with it.

Now it’s time to play with colors, because that neon pink is terrible!

Click on the color tool and it gives us the option to choose colors individually, or to pick a premade color theme. To try different themes just scroll through and click on them:

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Terrible, I know, so we’re going to choose the colors ourselves.

Click the color you want to change:

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And get a pop up. Click on the teeny tiny squares to choose your color:

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Repeat for the other colors.

After I got the colors changed, I decided to change the layout, too. Now, we can preview the cover by clicking the preview button:

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The preview lets you see it in color, black and white, and in thumbnail. Switch between them by clicking the icons on the left.

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If you’re happy with it, click the Save & Submit button. You’ll get a white screen that says you’re submitting your cover, and then be taken back to the edit project page. From there you can finish your publishing (see previous post) and submit your book.

Have you tried the KDP cover creator? If so, what did you think of it?signature

Categories: Book Covers, Book Setup | Tags: , , , ,

For Cover designers and Formatters

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

I know this blog is primarily aimed at authors, but many of us moonlight as cover designers or formatters (such as myself and Stephannie Beman) so I wanted to share this from Smashwords:  (I copied it directly from their site updates page. If you have any questions please contact smashwords as I don’t have the answers. Sorry. )

 

**Mark’s List open for new applicants**  It’s been over a year since we added a new batch of cover designers and formatters to Mark’s List, our list of low-cost service providers.  For a limited period of time, I’m accepting a small number of applications for new freelancers.  If you’re considering applying, please carefully study the information below.  Incomplete or inappropriate applications will be disregarded.

Background on the list:  I created the list in January, 2011 as a public service for our authors and publishers.  It’s currently available via autoresponder when someone emails list@smashwords.com.  A newer version of the list will be made available on the Smashwords web site.  We don’t charge for listings, and we don’t take a commission.   Every individual is a freelancer.  Each freelancer provides excellent customer service, which is why they continue to be on the list.  We appreciate the great, low-cost services these freelancers provide to our authors and publishers.  We’re also pleased to know that for many of the Mark’s List freelancers, their inclusion on the list has provided them much-appreciated supplemental income.  Some have even made it their full time job.
How to apply:   First, email list@smashwords.com and study the email you receive so you can get an idea how other service providers are providing and pricing their services.   Apply to only one category, cover designers or formatters.  You must be the person who will provide the services.  We will not accept service provider firms, or individuals who farm out their work to others.  Note that I expect to receive many more applications that I can accept in this round, so please accept my apologies in advance if you don’t make the cut this time.  Maybe next time.
Okay, you’re ready to apply.  Compose an email to me at listapp@smashwords.com.  Use the subject line, “Mark’s List.”  Answer each of the questions for the category for which you want to be considered (cut and paste these questions into your email and then provide your answers inline):
Cover designers:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Provide a link to your online portfolio.  I’m looking for designers with a track record of producing high-quality, professional covers.  It’s also very important that Smashwords authors and publishers can evaluate your portfolio before they hire you.
  3. Provide me hyperlinks to up to five covers you designed for Smashwords books.
  4. If selected, will you provide all your Smashwords clients a listing in your online portfolio, as well as a live hyperlink to their book’s listing at Smashwords?  Such portfolio listings are appreciated by our authors, and a plus for your application.
  5. What is your design fee, and how many revisions does that include?  Most Smashwords designers are in the range of $35-$100.  If you charge more, that’s fine as long as the price is justified by the quality.  We’re looking for great designers!
  6. Do you agree that you will not try to market or upsell other author services?
  7. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Formatters:
  1. Provide me a complete hyperlink to your author/publisher profile page, which you’ll find by clicking “My Smashwords.”  Preference will be shown to Smashwords authors and publishers.  If you’re opted in to all our distribution channels (not counting Amazon), that’s a plus.
  2. Do you consider yourself an expert at the Smashwords Style Guide?
  3. How many books have you personally formatted that have been accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog?  The more the better.  Provide direct hyperlinks to up to 10 of them.  Preference will be shown to formatters who employ smart use of linked Table of Contents, intra-book links (endnotes and indexes), and who provide clean, professional formatting for novels.
  4. How many years have you been using Microsoft Word?
  5. Do you Nuke every project before you begin it?
  6. Do you know how to preserve italics and bolds post-Nuke using CTRL-H wildcards?
  7. Will you guarantee Premium Catalog inclusion for your clients?
  8. Will you perform all the work yourself?
  9. Do you agree that you will not upload client works to Smashwords?
  10. Do you agree that you will not attempt to upsell Smashwords authors to other formatting or ebook design or distribution services?
  11. What would be your approximate rates for a novela, a full-length novel, and a more complex non-fiction book with an extensive linked Table of Contents, or index and endnote links?
  12. Why do you think you’d be a great addition to Mark’s List?
Thanks, and good luck!
~Mark
Categories: Book Covers, Book Formatting, Smashwords store | Tags: ,

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