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.

Productivity

davidseah-progress-trackerLawrence Kasdan said ‘being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

For self publishers this even more true–not only are we constantly writing but we’re on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads connecting with readers and promoting our books.

I’ve been doing a lot of productivity research lately, mostly listening to podcasts because I can do that while cleaning or folding laundry.  I’ve learned a lot, particularly that an author is only as good as her tools!

Using software like Scrivener or Hootsuite can really help with writing and managing social media but only if you use them! Unfortunately using them is the hard part. I’ve tried a lot of to-do list software while excellent and somewhat fun to use, they didn’t work for me.

‘Write Book’ was way too big of an item for me (even when broken down into word count goals) because it was mixed in with the laundry, dinner and helping my kids with their homework.

Enter the Progress Tracker

I found something that works better: The Task Progress Tracker.

This is basically a worksheet created by David Seah that breaks a big job down into small pieces and then lets you track your time spent on each project. When you’ve completed a project, you’ll also know how much time you spent on it which helps you plan better for the future–so double bonus there!

Here’s how I use it:

1. Print out a worksheet and staple it to a folder. I keep all associated materials to the project in the folder.

2. Then I take my book outline and transfer each chapter to a line. Alternatively, you could use this to track how much time you are spending on Social Media or book promotion. Showing up on Twitter and Facebook is half the battle!

3. Use Online Stopwatch to time 15 minute increments of work on a project. (You can do anything for 15 minutes!)

Not only does this make me a better planner, on days when my only option is to grab 15 minutes, I get the stuff that needs doing done.

Do you have any productivity tools that help you to focus?

 

 

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!

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.

 

How to Find Your Keywords

Find Your KeywordsKeywords are critical to your success on Amazon and beyond. Keywords help search engines to categorize your book correctly and display it to people who want to buy it.

Figuring out the right keywords will draw readers to your book through search traffic. Amazon gets a heck of a lot of traffic so it is worth it to spend some time on this. Your keywords can be single words or phrases. The phrases bring more targeted traffic, which is what you want because those are the people that are most likely to read your book.

Research Your Keywords

Get out a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. Label the first column Google, the second one Amazon, and the third one Combined.

Head over to the Google Keyword tool  https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool . (Login with your Google Account so you don’t have to enter the CAPTCHA.)live streaming movie A Cure for Wellness 2017

In the search box, type in a word or phrase you think people would use to search for your book.

Keyword Research for Authors

Make sure you are on the Keyword Ideas (circled) tab before you click the blue search button. Google defaults to the Ad Group ideas.

Once you click Search, Google will make suggestions based on what people are actually searching for. Google loves Amazon, so you can use the keyword tool to find an approximate list of keywords and phrases that people would use to find your book. I’d suggest trying to find 20 keywords for your book. Write these words in the column labeled Google.

  • Don’t select your keywords based on popularity–make sure you go for relevancy. For example futuristic detective novel is way better than detective novel because it is more specific.
  • Get creative when you are looking for keywords, use location, theme, genre etc. to search for relevant words.

Take a few minutes to go through Google’s suggestions. You can run new searches or run searches on the suggested keywords. When you find a good word or phrase, write it down. When it comes to search volume, look in the Local Monthly Searches. Google has localized search by country just as Amazon has Amazon.uk et al. So you want to make sure you are pulling data from the same pool as you are about to head over to Amazon to do the same thing.download movie The Shack 2017

As far as search volume goes, more refined keywords are the best but rule out the ones with less than 1000 searches. You want a keyword that you can rank on–so head for middle ground here. (Don’t worry too much about the search volume because we’re going to use Amazon to refine this list.)

Once you have a list, go over to Amazon and start typing your keywords into the search bar. (If you are only publishing for the Kindle, make sure the Kindle store is selected in the where to search part of the bar.) You’ll notice that Amazon will make suggestions to you based on what you are typing in.

  • Pay attention to those searches because that is what people are actually typing in when they look for books on Amazon. Using your Google list, cross reference all the key words and determine your top 7 keywords by both popularity and relevancy. You can even type in your main keyword and then every letter of the alphabet to get additional ideas. This takes less time than you would think.

Write down all of these words in your second column. Once you have a good list, compare them with your Google list and write those in your third column. You will need to pick your top seven to ten keywords from this list. Y

Use these keywords when you are uploading your book. It is really, really important to also use these words in your book description and tags as well.

When a customer types in your keywords, you want your book to come out on the top and the best way to do this is to use your keywords where-ever you can. Pick your best one and use it in your title…like Blue Moon Waning (A Futuristic Detective Novel). This has the added benefit of telling customers in the search results what they are getting when they click on your book.

You can and should use these keywords on your website, social media sites and anywhere else on the internet that you post. It just helps create a cohesive picture of you and your books for the Search Engines and they will rank you higher for it. Doing your keyword research does not take all that long and really pays off because it forms the base for your book promotion.Watch Froning The Fittest Man In History (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Tutorial: How to Format Your Amazon Book Description (Add Bold and Italics plus more!)

Want to jazz up your Book Description?

One of the most common questions I get via email is how to add bold and italics to book descriptions on Amazon. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think and you don’t need to know any html.

Here’s how:

Download this Tutorial as a PDF. (Right click to save.)

1. Sign in to Author Central

Go to Amazon Author Central and sign in. (If you do not have an account, you will need to create one.)

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2. The Welcome Screen

On the welcome screen, click Books on the blue menu bar.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

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