Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tips for Self-Publishing - Step Four: Book Cover & Book Description

Hi all,

You are definitely getting closer to publishing your eBook. Try not to rush to get your book published. Make sure to take the time to do everything right so you won't have to change it later on. So far, we have talked about the following steps:

Step One: PreparingYour Manuscript   

Step Two: Choosing aPublishing Platform  

Step Three:Formatting Your eBook 

Now we are going to talk about your eBook cover and book description. You may think that these two things are not as important as the content of the book, but that isn't true. An unprofessional book cover or an ineffective book description can make a difference in whether or not a customer will seriously consider purchasing your book – especially if this is your first novel.

A Professional Book Cover

It's been said a million times and I'll say it again – readers do judge a book by its cover. The cover is what catches the reader's eye; the cover is what brings interest to your book when it is sitting alongside other books on a bookseller's site.  If your book cover cannot compete alongside a traditionally published book, then no one is going to look at it. (Except maybe your mother, sister, brother and best friend.)
"But can't I buy a professional photo, add my book's title to it and be ready to go?"

Yes, you can. Many people do. But I wouldn't recommend it. If you are a graphic designer or have the appropriate computer programs and you know how to use them, I say go for it. But let's face it, most of us are not designers or own computer programs that can create a beautiful, professional cover that will stand out from the crowd.

"But I'm a first-time author and I can't afford to pay someone to create a professional book cover."

I understand that completely, we've all been there. But the question is, when competing against over one-million other eBooks on Amazon, can you afford not to have a professional book cover? You've spent months, maybe even years creating your novel. Doesn't it deserve a book cover that will make it stand out from the crowd?

Your book cover does not have to be expensive, but it does have to catch the eye, express the essence of your story and stand out on the page. There are many services that can supply a book cover for you for under $150. Some even have professional book cover designs for under $100. I personally use Tugboat Design to create my book covers. They are easy to work with and affordable. But it doesn't matter who makes your book cover; just consider having a professional cover made so your book will stand out from the other one-million eBooks.

Tugboat Design wrote an article on why you should have a professional book cover that you can read here.  

Here is an example of why you should have a professional create your book cover. When I was trying to decide on a cover for my upcoming novel, SARA'S PROMISE, I came upon the following photo and thought it would be perfect for my cover. I even went so far as to create a mock-up of how I wanted it to look. (Left) (The swirl in the photo is just to protect it, not what I added.) I then gave the photo to Deborah at Tugboat Design and asked her to find a way to create a great book cover out of it. After playing around with the photo I gave her, she created an "alternate" cover (Right) that she thought I would like better. Here are the two covers.

As you can see, she came up with a MUCH better book cover than I could have ever done by myself. I had come upon the entwined wedding rings picture and mentioned to use it, but I had no idea how. She not only used them, but in a creative way that I wouldn't have been able to do. Now, which cover would catch your eye – mine or hers. I thought so.

Don't be afraid to invest in a professional book cover – it will be worth it in the end.

A Captivating Book Description

I have to say, I am amazed when I see a book that looks interesting on Amazon and then when I read the description, there is maybe one or two lines that barely describe the book. I don't know about you, but if the author can't make the description interesting, then I don't want to buy it. I'm sure there are many other readers out there who feel the same way.

The Book Description is Your Best Advertisement
Your book description helps to sell your book. Think of it as an advertising campaign. Hit the high points – draw interest – leave the reader hanging. Make the reader want to buy your book.

An effective book description should tell enough about the story to grasp the reader's interest without giving away too much of the story. It should touch on the main plot of the book and the main characters. Leave the subplots out – this will only confuse potential readers. And don't give away endings. Otherwise, why would the reader want to buy your book?

Your book description should be written in the third person – just as you would write your author bio (you did write your author bio in the third person, right?). It doesn't matter how your book is written, the description should always be written in third person.

Don't Be Lazy!
Do not be lazy and just put an excerpt from your book as a description. While an excerpt can help sell the book, it doesn't give a good overall description of your book. Take the time to write a great book description. Not only will you use it on the sites where you sell your book, but if you create a paperback version, it will appear on the back of that book as well. You can also use your book description when you start promoting your book (hopefully!) on the many book blogs that you share interviews and excerpts with.

If you are having trouble coming up with the key points in your book to write a description, then ask friends, your proofreader or your editor how they would describe your book. Their thoughts can help you narrow down the plot to create a selling book description.

Most important of all – make sure the description flows, reflects the novel's style of writing and is error free! No misspellings, no bad grammar. People will judge your writing style by that one or two paragraphs that describes your novel, so make sure your book description is interesting, well-written and piques the reader's interest.

I found a wonderful blog post on writing a book description here. Check it out for more information.

Self-publishing a novel, especially your first one, is a daunting task but if you follow the proper steps, you will see better results from your efforts. Remember though, that even with all the bells and whistles, a novel is only as good as the story it tells, so make sure the majority of your efforts goes into creating the story and editing. The cover and description are window dressing, but important in selling your novel. When you put it all together, you may have the right formula for the next bestselling novel!





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