Guest Post: The 3 Keys to Designing a Book Cover that Sells

Scarlett Rugers Design

Need a book cover? Visit Scarlett’s site by clicking here.

Book cover designer Scarlett Rugers is giving us the low-down on how to get a great cover today. 

Design can be overwhelming.

There’s so much to think about and consider when putting together a book cover, so to make sure you prioritise the right things.

I’m going to share with you what I consider to be the three most important things when designing it yourself.

1. Do you have a clear message you want to portray?

This does not have to be specific, as in, ‘an 18 year old German girl falls in love with a rock star and she also discovers a plot to steal the magic blue diamond’. A story like that, with so many elements, is probably best off not saying any of that. When I talk about a message I’m talking about a concept, a simple visual. Something that encompasses the cover’s personality, character, and mystery.

What single image can sum up your story? If you’re not sure, turn to brainstorming. Write a list of words you want your book cover to encompass. Love, passion, stormy, arrogant, dark, terror, family. By always checking this list you can ensure you’re staying on track for a well-designed cover

2. Consult other designs.

You don’t have to start from scratch, you’re allowed to be inspired by other design. See how others in your genre have done it, and learn by example. Some of the best sites to get feedback is the bookcoverarchive.com, goodreads.com and pinterest.com. Take note of the image layout, the type faces used, where the type has been placed, the colour schemes.

What sort of covers are trending? Is a whole face used, or perhaps it’s more about texture, or sweeping landscapes.

3. Get honest feedback.

I’m not talking about your mum, girlfriend, or dog. I’m not talking about your fan readers, I’m talking about people who are not afraid to give you feedback because they know it will help your chances, not hinder. This could be your beta readers, your local writing community, anyone in your circles that you believe are willing to give you constructive critique.  I’m not going to pretend it won’t hurt, but it will help your chances of higher sales.

Overall it’s important to be open to change. I confess that I’m a repeat offender when it comes to sticky ideas. I get an idea, even if it’s idea #2, and I think THIS IS IT, THIS IS THE BOMB. When I get feedback for it I’ve been known to defend and fight off all the critique I didn’t want to hear. It’s taken a long time but, in the wise words of my University teacher, ‘ideas are currency, the more you have the richer you are’.

Be prepared to let go of ideas that just aren’t working and start fresh. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you’re a scientist. You test, experiment, and analyse what works best for your book.

What do you think are some of the most important things to remember when it comes to designing your own book cover?

Scarlett RugersScarlett Rugers is a professional book cover designer, from Melbourne Australia. She’s worked with both self-published authors and traditional publishing houses, dedicating her time to make authors feel like best sellers.
Her goal is to help change the stigma of self-publishing and show it’s a professional field of high quality. She does this by designing beautiful book covers and working together with authors to produce the best book they can, and to encourage development of their skills in writing and publishing.
She has also been writing since 1998, and has published the non-fiction book of 1001 First Lines, and Oscar & Josephine, a fictional novella.
You can find her here:
http://booksat.scarlettrugers.com
http://www.facebook.com/scarlettrugersdesign
http://www.twitter.com/thebookdesignr

Author Website Toolkit: The Website Planner

Website-Planner-3d

Click Image to Download the Planner

Want to save time when setting up your website?

Use the Self Publishing Toolkit’s Website Planner!

This hands on workbook will help you to make all of the important design decisions for your website ahead of time, including your layout, colors and features.

All you have to do is download and print the workbook. Spend 30 minutes or so doing a little research and you’ll have everything you need to build a beautiful site.

When you are ready to set up your site, you’ll have everything you need ready to go and your set up process will be a breeze.

Don’t delay. Download your Website Planner and get started on your site today!

Download the rest of the Website Toolkit by clicking here.

(And remember if you have any questions about setting up your site, you can contact me!)

Author Website Toolkit: Module 2 Posts, Pages & Add Media

Download Module 2 Getting to Know WordPressI’ve just added a second Module to the Author Website Toolkit. You can check it out on the Author Website Toolkit page or just click the image above to download it right now.

This module covers:

  • posting to your site
  • creating a static page
  • how to add images to your site.

We’ll be putting all of this into practice in an upcoming module but you can create a few pages and try out uploading an image with this module. Module 3 covers plugins and it should be out in a few days.

The Author Website Toolkit will help you design and build a professional website on the WordPress platform. You can see all current modules of the Toolkit by going to the main Author Website Toolkit Page.

Seven Point Story Structure with Dan Wells

I was listening to Writing Excuses the other day and Dan Wells (Partials, John Cleaver Books) did a great break down of his take on the Seven Point Story Structure. With NaNoWriMo coming up quickly, I thought I’d share that info here.

He’s also got a presentation of the Seven Point Structure on YouTube, so I’m linking to those videos as well. ( Scroll down for the videos.) They are well worth watching, especially if you are struggling to come up with a plot.

He runs downs the plots of many books and movies as examples including Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice and The Matrix. I’ve also worked up a set of worksheets based on this structure (because after you know it, it is fun to find it in all of your favorite show and books.)

I’ll do a quick summary , give you some worksheets and a Scrivener Template* and you can watch the videos. It’s an awesome way to kick of NaNoWriMo with a strong start. (And increase the chances you’ll have something that you can eventually publish.)

*Please Note: The Scrivener Template must be imported. You cannot just double click on the file and have it open. If you don’t have Scrivener or want step by step instructions for using it, please download the free Author Toolkit.

Quick Notes

Here are a few quick notes on the presentation, so that you can get  jump on the information. The worksheet has a cover sheet that includes these notes:

The Hook

This is where your characters start from. You set up your character’s world and set their stakes (what they have to lose) in this part.

Plot Turn 1

This is the event that sets your story in motion.  It moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. You character’s world changes here.

Pinch 1

Pinches are where you put pressure on your hero from your antagonist to force your hero into action.

Midpoint

The midpoint takes your character from reaction to action. At the midpoint, your character determines that she must do something.  (This can take place over a series of scenes.)

Pinch 2

Pinch 2 is where your story takes the ultimate dive. Your hero is literally sitting in the jaws of defeat. Everything has fallen apart.

Plot Turn 2

This point moves the story from the Midpoint to the Resolution. Plot Turn 2 is where you character receives the final piece of information that he needs to make it to the resolution. (No new information can be introduced after this point.) You character finally understands he has the power to achieve the resolution.

Resolution

Your hero completes what he sets out to do.

 

Download the Worksheets

7 point story structure worksheet - Self Publishing Toolkit

How to use the Worksheets: The first page contains the definition of each point and three examples. The second page is blank. Since your story will likely have more than one thread, you can assign each thread to a column and see how they weave together to form your story.

Watch the Videos

This is a 5-part series and they are listed in order. It’s worth watching all of them to get the concepts completely drilled it into your head.

The Indie Author Toolkit

I am super, unbelievably excited to announce the debut of the Self Publishing Toolkit’s first child: the Indie Author Toolkit!Download the SPTK Author Toolkit

The Self Publishing Toolkit’s Indie Author Toolkit has everything you need to write your next novel in one package–all you need to add is your imagination.

Inside the Toolkit, you’ll find:

  • Scrivener 30 day free trial (This is the only program you need to write a novel! It is the total package from start to finish.)
  • The Scrivener Quick-Start guide to get you up and running as fast as possible.
  • The Self Publishing Toolkit Scrivener Template – This template takes all of the best practices outlined in the Self Publishing Toolkit and puts them to work for you. It also includes tips inside the program to advise you as you work.
  • Grammar Matters – A quick reference quick to the most common grammatical mistakes and how to fix them. Also includes a complete guide to punctuation.

The Indie Author Toolkit is yours to download. Simply fill out the form below and get free instant access to this one of a kind toolkit.