Writers typically know what to do for the inside of the book, but when we self-publish, what to do for the outside of the book can sometimes be a mystery . . . no matter the genre. So I asked Pittsburgh-area graphic designer Karen Captline some of the big questions authors may have about designing a book cover and working with a designer.
To convey to readers what the book is about, Karen said that any designer will follow the basic rules of graphic design. The field focuses on “conveying a message by using the correct fonts, words, and colors in a compelling way. Designers have a goal of creating a lot of curiosity about the book.” They want readers to want to buy this book and read it, so the visual appeal has to be there. Continue reading
Especially if you are a new writer, wrapping your head around doing anything other than writing your book can be a little strange. There are things that you need to do to market and sell you book, though. Plus, if you want to keep writing your book (or subsequent books!), it’s always helpful to generate new ideas!
So here are some suggestions for both sides of the coin: marketing what you have and continuing writing. Remember that every minute you spend on something other than writing should be worth your time! Continue reading
Sometimes when you write a book, you find yourself standing there—holding your beloved masterpiece in your hands—saying “Now what?”
If you want to reach an audience, to inspire or educate, then you can hold an event where you discuss your book. I just held a book-writing workshop this weekend (not related to my books), so here are some of the things I did to plan and get ready for the event. Continue reading
I was talking about the publishing process with a client recently, and we were pinpointing his goals. When I started out talking, I went straight to that “the-sky’s-the-limit” mentality and mentioned some different ways that he can use his book to reach the audience he wants to reach.
I stopped myself partway through this conversation, apologized, and asked him what he really wants to do with his book. Maybe he didn’t want to do speaking gigs and meet with groups of people to help them out.
He took a deep breath. (I think I had overwhelmed him a bit.) He wants to help people who have been through the same difficult situation he’s been through because he didn’t find many books to help him out at the time. Then he said, “Honestly, I’m not looking to write the next great American novel. I just want to get my story out there to help people. After that, I’m not sure. I just want others in this situation to feel like they aren’t alone. Other people have been through it, too.”
I’m sure that plenty of people want to do the same thing. You just want to help others because you felt alone, scared, or like you were the only person going through what you did.
And that’s beautiful. Continue reading
It’s a short one this week! I’ve been super busy with magazine articles. Not a bad thing!
Have you ever watched a TV show where the characters are involved in something serious, and they suddenly start talking about relationship problems? For example, maybe they are investigating a crime, trying to figure out who killed the millionaire business man, and one suddenly says, “So how are things working out with Tom?”
The other character then responds. They carry on a conversation about it. Then they find a crushed cigarette butt—the business man doesn’t smoke—and turn their thoughts back to the scene of the crime.
As a writer, this drives me nuts! It’s completely unbelievable! It would never happen in real life. No one takes care of serious business and discusses relationships in the middle of it. No one stops in the middle of running from the bad guys to express their romantic feelings and kiss the other person passionately. No one . . . you get my point. Continue reading
You know what’s fun? Once you have a beautiful polished manuscript, you get to write an enticing 2–3 paragraph synopsis of the book that doesn’t give away too much plot but makes people want to buy your book. (This is for the back cover.)
And suddenly, reorganizing your pantry is really exciting and important right now . . .
Basically, you have three options once you put down the can of green beans: you can pay someone to write it for you, you can cry in a corner, or you can tie yourself to your desk chair and write it yourself.
Option three tends to be the least painful physically, emotionally, and economically, so let’s look at my favorite trick for writing a great back cover blurb. Continue reading
Crazy as it may seem, I feel awkward telling people that I’m an author.
I’m self-published, like that makes my books “not real.” I don’t have a ton of sales, like that makes my books “bad.” I don’t know how much money you can make with books because I’ve only been at it a short time. And I’m not 100% on the marketing because, well, that isn’t my specialty. I’m learning.
Until recently, I have felt like a horrible fraud. I have been embarrassed to tell other authors that I self-published six books. As it turns out, though, tons of other very legit authors are self-published. Much like online dating, it’s not just the leftovers and freaks. It’s people who want to take control of that part of their lives. Continue reading
Navigating the delicate balance between under- and over-describing can be challenging.
As writers, we know that our readers are intelligent and have amazing imaginations, just like us, but at the same time, we need to give enough information to trigger that imagination. Too little means that your reader may not feel connected to your vision and your story. Too much means that your reader could wander away from the book, bored because the story is dragging.
Here are some places to be mindful so you can achieve the balance of description in your work. Continue reading
Long, long ago, right after I finished my master’s work, I couldn’t find a job, so I worked at the Waldenbooks at the mall. Most of the people I worked with had done the same thing: finished an English degree, couldn’t find a job, worked in a bookstore.
At that point, I had written one book and started on another, and I was shopping it to various agents. One of the guys at the store said that he was a published author already. We started talking about it, but he seemed reluctant. Weird, right? Continue reading
When I sat down to write this post, I started thinking about my experience editing non-fiction. It’s actually how I got started in my business, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done so far this year: I’ve already edited four non-fiction works that became best-sellers for two different authors. Wow! (I’m even surprising myself.)
In less than seven months, I’ve had the pleasure of editing four non-fiction best-sellers from these authors, and it’s been an amazing experience for me. Not only was I able to shape the construction and lovingly encourage the verbiage as it developed, but I also gained insight and inspiration from the books. If you’re curious about them, please refer to my portfolio page, which links to places to purchase the books.
When you’re writing inspiring non-fiction, it can be easy to fall into a didactic tone where you are instructing your reader to follow steps to achieve or a story-telling pattern where you tell the reader what happened for the bulk of the book. Let’s take a step back from that, though. Do you think that your reader will truly feel engaged if you are talking at them like that? What sort of experience do you want your readers to take away from the book? Can you inspire them while making them feel like they personally know you, like they were there for the event, or like they have a connection with your story? Continue reading