I asked a new friend of mine to give me her thoughts via a guest blog post and am STOKED that she agreed! Please enjoy.
Step away from the iPad…
Guest Blog by Helen Treharne
Step away from the iPad…. these are my words of caution for the newbie self-published author.
I’m not generally one to give advice on writing, or to listen to it for that matter – I tend to cherry pick the bits that suit. There is one bit of advice, however, that I urge you to take; it’s about design. No matter what anyone tells you, unless you happen to be a graphic designer on the side, it’s unlikely that you will ever create great artwork on your own. When I was preparing to publish my first novel, I read lots of conflicting opinions on this. One set of views were firmly entrenched in getting a professional designer to sort out your cover, the others of the view that you can do decent job yourself with some basic IT.
On a tight budget I decided to side with the second camp. I got InDesign on my iPad for 77 pence, some licence free images online and mocked up covers for the whole “Sophie Morgan” series. “Ta-dah” I exclaimed to my husband, who made lots of positive noises, in the vein of “not bad for a first go”. Happy with my achievements, I used these early attempts as promo images for my blog and on social media – they helped build interest and enabled me to upload a pre-order version up on all the main websites.
Then came the kick in the creative nuts – I wanted a paperback version of my book so needed a cleaner image. What works as a thumbnail will not work on a larger print and I’m not just talking about design. There’s quality of text and images to consider. That’s when I decided to bite the bullet and pay for a cover. Please, please, please, save yourself a lot of time and hassle by doing this from the get-go. If you know a good graphic designer and can afford it, then do it. If you don’t there’s plenty of options available.
- CreateSpace has some templates which you can personalise with your own images (for paperback and Amazon KDP). This won’t suit everyone and the templates have their limitations – although you can personalise them to a degree with your own images (license free, licenced or your own of course). Alternatively, you can upload your own fully formatted paperback cover as I did.
- There’s a raft of ready-made covers you can purchase – the internet is filled with them. If you do this, make sure you select an option which uses more than one stock image (to minimise risk of looking like another book) and that once you buy the cover, it isn’t sold on to anyone else. There’s downsides to this – not least that you narrow your selection and that it may still resemble many others.
- An alternative is to, like me, go on to Fiverr.com where you can find some freelance guys at a decent rate who will design a bespoke one. With a decent brief, I had my art work within 48 hours which I then uploaded to CreateSpace for my paperback, and to Smashwords and Amazon for my e-book. Already sales are up and I’ve got a smart looking paperback to sell to boot!
Your book cover is your shop window – you MUST make this inviting and give potential readers a flavour of what it’s about. Save yourself stress and poor sales by getting it right first time. Get the professional (or a skilled amateur) to do it for you. So my parting message is this, when it comes to design… step away from the iPad! Abandon your Android. Avoid the “app”. Cast away the clip-art. Apps will only get you so far. Get designers to design and stick to the bit you’re good at – the writing!