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

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

How to Add a Contact Form to Your Author Website (WordPress)

How to Add a Contact Form to Your WebsiteA contact page is one of the most important components of your author website. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to get yours up and running in about 5 minutes.

In addition to being a quick and easy way for your website visitors to ask you a question, a contact form will cut down the amount of spam you get because you won’t have to post your email on your site. (The Akismet plugin will eliminate spam from your forms as well as your blog comments.) When a reader fills out a form, the information will be sent right to your inbox so replying is just as easy.

Please note: You must have the Jetpack plugin installed to complete this tutorial. If you don’t have it installed, go to Plugins>Add New. Click search, type in Jetpack and then follow the instructions.)

Let’s get started!

Create a new page in WordPrees by clicking Pages > Add New.

(You can also add forms to posts. Just add a new post instead of a page. Go here for more on posts and pages.)

Click the form icon next to the Add Media button.

Image of Form Button

A lightbox will pop up that will let you define your form. It has a default contact form set up.

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You can change any or all of the options by hovering your mouse over a particular field. A context menu will appear. Click edit to modify the field.

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(1) Label allows you to change the name of the field.
(2) Field Type defines the type of field you are using. (Click Save this field if you change the field type.)
(3) Click the minus sign to delete the field.
(4) Click Add New Field to create addition input boxes.

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When you are done adjusting your form settings, click the Email Notifications tab at the top of the light box.

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(1) If you want to change the address where your feedback is sent, you can do it here.
(2) Set the subject line of your feedback.
(3) Click save to go back to form builder.

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Once you have everything the way you like it, click Add this form to my post.

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(1)Wordpress will add the short code for your form to your visual editor. If you need to add additional design elements, just work around the code. (It looks the same in the visual editor and the text editor. Don’t modify the code.)

(2)To edit your form, click the form button again and make your changes.

(3) To see how your form will look, click Preview.

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It will look something like this:

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If you’d like to see a live form, you can check out my Contact page. Once you have your form set up the way you like it, publish your page.

If you have any questions about building your author website  or need some help you can reply to this post or contact me.

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.

Secrets for Finding (Cheap) Fabulous Images for your Blog (or Website)

Find Cheap, Fabulous Images for Your Blog!

Read on to Find Cheap, Fabulous Images for Your Blog!

This post became unintentionally long so I’ve linked a table of contents at the top. You can also download this tutorial as a PDF for ease of use.

Contents

Part One: Finding Inexpensive Images

Part Two: How to Insert an Image & Optimize an Image with WordPress

Part Three: Uploading Your Images to Your WordPress SiteRoblox HackBigo Live Beans HackYUGIOH DUEL LINKS HACKPokemon Duel HackRoblox HackPixel Gun 3d HackGrowtopia HackClash Royale Hackmy cafe recipes stories hackMobile Legends HackMobile Strike Hack

Part One: Finding Inexpensive Images

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Images make your website an inviting, attractive place to be. They have the power to convince someone to compel a reader to read a post, to get to know you and to buy your book.

Images influence readers and increase the trust your reader places in you. The most read text on a website is the caption under your images. In fact, if you want people to do a particular thing on your site (like sign up for your mailing list) place an image of an arrow pointing to that particular activity. (You could also place a photo of a person looking at the form.) This is called line of sight and it works!

Click for the rest of Tutorial

5 Author Website Must-Haves

An Author Website is a critical part of your Self Publishing Toolkit, but for most authors websites can be a real head-ache–just one more thing to do that takes them away from writing–so they slap up a free blog and call it done.

You and your fans deserve better than that.  Your readers will come looking for your website after they’ve finished your book and loved it. Don’t disappoint them! Give them a way to connect with you further, find out more about your books and what inspires you to write them.

Websites don’t have to be hard. (I’ll even help you get started.) Here are the 5  (easy to implement) must-haves for every website:

1. Your Books & a Way to Buy Them

Your website should have a single page dedicated to listing all of your books and where to buy them. In addition, you can and should feature your latest book on the home page with a brief description and buy link.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

*If your books are for sale on Amazon, join Amazon Associates and they will provide you with the code to link your book and you’ll get a small percentage of whatever a buyer buys after they click your link–even if it isn’t your book. Once you’ve signed up for an account, type in your book title and when it pops up, click Get Link and Amazon will give you a variety of options to customize your link. Just copy and paste that code and your book will show up on your site with a buy link.

2. About the Author

About pages are among the most frequently clicked pages on the internet. Your readers want to know more about you and your books and this is the place to tell them. If you want to get even more creative, you could also offer bios for your main characters that include information that isn’t in your books.

Your website is also your chance to provide additional content that enhances your books. As writer, we all create characters and scenes that end up on the cutting room floor. These extra bits of information can be recycled into content that your readers will love. Author Brandon Sanderson frequently posts extra information about his books on his website and that just keeps fans coming back for more. (He’s also a great content Tweeter not to mention an amazing writer.)

*Put a sign-up for your email list at the end of your bio. This is one of the best, logical times to ask a reader for their email address.

3. Multiple Ways to Contact/Follow/Like You

It’s not your reader’s job to find you, it’s your job to be where your readers are. This is why you should be on all the big Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook, provide them with an email address you can be reached at as well as a contact form. You never know what your readers are going to contact you about, so be ready and available just in case someone needs 100 copies of your book for their next book club meeting.

WordPress makes it very easy to set up a contact form on your website with the Jet-Pack plug-in and for the sake of professionalism, your email should be yourname@yourdomain.com. You can easily set up a forwarder so that all email you get via your domain ends up in your most frequently checked email inbox.

4. Email List Sign-Up

It is never, ever too early to start collecting subscriber emails. If you have a website, you should have a form on it. Don’t wait until you are more popular or have more books. These early sign-ups on your list are likely to be your most ardent supporters. These are the people that will forward your new releases to their friends and drive your sales rank up on Amazon when they rush to get your new books.

*I highly recommend using Aweber to manage your emai list. Yes, it costs money (though the first month is only a $1) but in the end you will be happy that you went with a high quality, industry leader for your email list management because your emails to your fans will end up in their inboxes, and not their SPAM boxes. It is extremely easy to use their interface, they have tons of step by step help videos if you get stuck, and very helpful customer service if you get confused. Putting your form on your site is as easy as copying and pasting.

5. You!

More than anything, your website should reflect you and your books. Pick colors you love and write blog posts about things that interest you because those are the same things that are going to interest your readers. When you look at your website, you should feel pride and excitement about all of the things that you have to offer your readers.

Great author websites don’t have to be complicated and you can manage your own site when you build your site on WordPress. WordPress allows you to have a totally static site, a blog or a combination of both (which is what the Self Publishing Toolkit is.) If you need help getting your site set-up, I can help you out with the technical end. Go here for the details.

I hope this article helped give you ideas for your own website. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

Tutorial: How to Add Social Media Icons to Your Website

Introduction

For this tutorial, I am assuming that you have a self-hosted WordPress website/blog. I will be using the Twenty Eleven Theme which ships with WordPress. It is the default installed theme. If you have installed a different theme, your screen may look slightly different than mine, but under the hood everything should be in the same place. This tutorial will help you set up icons on your site that look like this:
How to Add Social Media Icons to Your Website - The Self Publishing Toolkit

Set up all of Your Social Media Accounts

Before you can add the icons to your site, you must have your accounts set up and have the links to your profiles. Once you have this information, you’ll be good to go. –>Make a list of the sites you want icons for, gather your account info (use Evernote to store all your links) and set up any accounts that you don’t have.

Select a set of Social Media Icons

If you haven’t already, select a set of icons from one of these sites:
I’m going to use elegantthemes for this tutorial.
How to Add Social Media Icons to Your Website - The Self Publishing Toolkit

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 Toolkitdownload full film Carol 2015

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.

 

Tutorial: How to Set Up a KDP Select Promotion

I had a question via email about setting up a KDP Promotion, so I put together a quick tutorial on how to get it set up.

Download as PDF Right click to save.

Step 1: The Publication Process

When you are publishing your book make sure to put a check in the box labelled Enroll this book in KDP Select. Then go through your publication process to finishing publishing your book on Amazon.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

1-The-Publication-Process

Step 2. Once Your Book is Published…

Return to the KDP Dashboard.
Go to your Bookshelf and click your book title.
It will take you to your publication details.
In the yellow box, click Promotions Manager.

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Step 3. The Promotions Manager

The Promotions Manager will open.
Click the new button.

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Step 4. Enter Your Details

Now all you need to do is enter in your promo details–give your promo a name and then choose your dates.
Click Save.
You can come here to stop or edit your promotion at anytime, even while it is running.

4-Enter-Your-Details

And you’re done!
Now you need to promote your free book: KDP Free Promo Resources
If you have a question, please Contact Me.

How to Sell More Books this Fall

Fall is upon us and with it comes the impending holiday season. Readers are about to start buying  a lot more more books–not to mention all the new Kindles that will be in use after the Winter Holidays.

Get a head start on this lucrative season by making sure your book is at its best. Here’s how:

Spiff Up Your Product Description

Now’s the time to fine tune your book blurb and make sure it really conveys the spirit of your book. It’s easy to tweak your description through Author Central and the changes will appear on your Product Page within hours. Put a short, descriptive phrase after your Title that hits the genre of your book. Readers will see this in search results and it will give you a head up on the competition.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)Roblox HackBigo Live Beans HackYUGIOH DUEL LINKS HACKPokemon Duel HackRoblox HackPixel Gun 3d HackGrowtopia HackClash Royale Hackmy cafe recipes stories hackMobile Legends HackMobile Strike Hack

For Example:  Fang’s Moon (WereWonders Book #1, Paranormal Romance)

You can also add customer images to your page to increase interest from potential readers. They can be anything from pictures of your setting to readers who took pictures of themselves with your book. Create as much interesting content on your page as you can because customer engagement means sales for you.

Take Advantage of Author Central

When readers click on your hyperlinked name just below your book title they are transported to your Author page on Amazon. If you have not taken the time to fill this out, don’t wait another minute. (I’m going to hit the high points here. For a more in-depth look and step by step instructions, please see The Self Publishing Toolkit.)

Through Author Central you can:

  • display your latest blog posts (with hyperlinks right to your site!)
  • connect your Twitter Feed (again this is a direct connection to readers!)
  • include your entire biography (readers want to get to know you, so don’t skip this step.)
  • add videos or book trailers, if you have them.

Amazon will also list all of the books that you have written here, so this is a great way for a reader to get to know you at a glance.

Give Your Book a Ranking Boost with KDP Select

If you are a member of KDP Select, run a two or three day promotion now. You’ll give your book a lot of exposure across Amazon and probably get a little hitch in your rankings as well. Schedule your promo at least a week in advance, more if possible.

Use the KDP Select Free Promo Resource page on this site to notify every possible site of your promotion. Take an hour or two and fill out all the submission forms. Last time I did it at McDonalds while my kids were in the Play Place. It did not take that long to go down the entire list. Even if I only get picked up by half the blogs, my exposure will have increased dramatically.

Use HootSuite to schedule all of your tweets ahead of time. This took me a max of 30 minutes to do using the list of Twitter Accounts on the KDP Select Free Promo Resource page. You can use Auto Schedule to spread your tweets over the length of your promotion which is essentially ‘set it and forget it.’ Once you have submitted all your information for your Free Promo, you can move on to other things and let the promo go on auto-pilot.

Get on the Promotional Train

If you haven’t been blogging or Tweeting, now’s the time to get in gear. When curious readers come looking for your website or Twitter account, make sure you have something waiting for them. Create a comfortable atmosphere where readers will feel good about buying your book. This does not have to take a ton of time out of your day. Once blog post a week and a few tweets that you can set up in less than ten minutes a day will put you in a great position.

Write Another Book

No, I’m not kidding. Now is the time to be writing. The kids (if you have them) are back in school (toddler parents will have to be creative, see McDonalds above) and NaNoWriMo starts November 1. Commit now and you can have a new book out by January, just in time to capitalize on all those brand new Kindles. If you need a little inspiration (or kick in the pants…) sign up for InkyBites’ NaNoWriMo Road Map Workshop and spend October getting ready to write in November.

Book sales may have slowed down this summer but all of that is about to change! Don’t miss out on this lucrative time for authors. Set aside a few hours a week to work on your promotional efforts and it will all pay off in your royalty checks!