Reading, Writing, and the Book Jacket Design Process

This fearless memoir was written by Patricia Gunn and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Mood is everything when it comes to designing a fabulous book jacket.

A great book cover designer understands that his or her job is to translate what it feels like to read your book.  Get the mood, understand the feeling, and pour that into a book cover without over designing or over complicating things.

The best book cover designers are voracious readers. They love the written word, because they know the essence of their book jacket design emanates without fail from those words.

Yes, it’s the plot of a great novel or the depth of a powerful memoir.  Yes, it is the message of a good business book or the tools demonstrated in a useful self-help book. But it is more than that.  Book cover design is about feeling. It’s about understanding the reader as well as the words written on the page.

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Book Design Trends and Indie Publishing

A Gift Like Zoe's

This book, about a rebellious teen following near-death experience was written by C. C. Holmes and published by Graham Publishing Group.

How much attention should you be paying to the current trends of the day when you set out to write the book of your dreams, be it a novel, a memoir, a business book, or a book of health and inspiration?  Should you write from your heart or write to satisfy trends?

  • First, you can never go wrong writing from you heart.
  • Second, there is nothing wrong with taking note of the trends of the day.

But if the latest book writing guru says that political and social satire are destined to be the latest and greatest trend, but satire doesn’t appeal to you, then the answer is easy: write what does appeal to you. If some blogger suggests that poetry is making a serious comeback, and poetry is your one, true love, then it’s good to know that maybe it’s making a comeback. If you’re interested in writing horror fiction, but zombies are out of vogue, then don’t give up on horror; think as far out in front of the curve as possible while being true to you as a writer.

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Marketing Your Book Using Your Email List

Make no mistake, your email list is an asset. A remarkable asset.  Using it to its full advantage is essential. Let’s talk about how.

Create and design a Landing Page on your website that works.

Okay, so what is a Landing Page, you ask.  The definition of a landing page is this: the section of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink on another web page, typically your website’s home page. The landing page has a form on it that allows you to capture a visitor’s information in exchange for a desired offer.  You have to give something to get something, so think about this. What can you offer your visitor that is worth them sharing their contact information. Is it a sample of your book? Is it a t-shirt? Is it a signed photo?

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The Art of Writing vs. The Science of Writing

image of La Mia Famiglia book cover

La Mia Famiglia was written by Anthony Scarpo and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Writing is a beautiful thing, one that incorporates elements of both art and science.

The science of writing is that most important focus we all need to have on the rules of writing and composition. Where do you use a semi-colon, for example. When should you forsake a compound sentence for two shorter sentences. Where to place commas.  How to write in the active voice when it might be easier to settle for the passive voice.  When to omit needless words.  When to inject opinions and when not to. When to respect your reader’s imagination as opposed to explaining or describing more than necessary.  You get the idea. A writer who insists upon using twenty-five-cent words when a ten-cent-word is there for the taking may still need to study the science of writing a bit more thoroughly.  In fact, every writer should always be open to the ever-evolving science of writing no matter how successful one might be. We can always improve.

The good news is this: everyone can “learn” the science of writing.

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Book Design and the World of SEO

image of the cover of "The Aftershock"

The Aftershock, an inspirational memoir, was written by Kelli Poles and published by Graham Publishing Group.

SEO. Search Engine Optimization.  Spooky words. Especially if you’re a writer who has just completed his or her novel, biography, business book, or book of inspiration. All you want to do is get your book to your book designer, get a great cover designed, and then get that baby up on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or whatever online platform you prefer.

All well and good until it comes to marketing your book. And, by the way, your book does deserve to be marketed. You may not understand it, but marketing and SEO go hand in hand.  You’re a writer and you love being creative.  Now that your book is done, get creative with marketing and the best use of Search Engine Optimization using blogs, web content, and industry articles.

SEO is Not Brain Surgery

Most of what you need to know about SEO is straightforward.  Even simple.  You don’t need to know code or how to build a website. All you need to know is how to communicate like you normally do with your readers.  Know your audience.  SEO operates upon simple keywords that people just like you and me type in when we’re searching for anything.  For example, you’re looking to learn more about book design.  Do you type in:

  • Tell me about the technology surrounding typesetting
  • How does book design work?

Which is most likely?  The second one, of course.

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Be a Storyteller

Laughter in the Red Woods, a humorous novel by May Kramer, was published by Graham Publishing Group.

Not everyone is a storyteller.

Not everyone wants to be a storyteller. Make no mistake, however; we all love a good story.  We love to be swept up in what is the heart and soul of any good story: conflict and resolution, drama and comedy, peril and heroism, love and laughter. These elements exist in everything that we do because they are second nature to the human condition.  And what is storytelling if not the portrayal of the human condition. We are emotional creatures, and most good storytelling plays upon the emotions of our audience, whether they are holding a book in their hands or seating in a seat in a theater.

The best storytellers have a gift for tapping into our emotions and letting us inside the jeopardy that is inherent in most situations and every relationship.  In other words, it’s about being real. If you want to be a storyteller, being real is the first and most important prerequisite.

Books are my favorite vehicle for storytelling, though not every book represents good storytelling.  The movies attempt to convey a story in two hours.  Some are successful, some are not. The theater is much the same.  Art?  Well, there are lot of artists who proclaim themselves storytellers, but not every painting, sculpture, or piece of pottery rises to that level. For my money, it doesn’t matter. If you make the attempt to write a book or a poem, create a script or produce a movie, act in or direct a play, pick up a paint brush or mold a piece of pottery, you’ve taken a risk in the creative world and ventured into the realm of storytelling. That in its own right is a success.

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You’ve Written a Book – Now What?

Surreal Estate, a Florida real estate thriller, was written by Sugar M. and published by Graham Publishing Group.

There are two ways to go now that your book is done, and there are pros and cons to each. Traditional publishing. Independent publishing.

Let’s define them. Traditional publishing is when you create a relationship with a mainstream publishing house, either big or small, who buys the rights to your book in exchange for an advance and the hope of royalties. This mainstream publishing house will, you hope, effectively market your book to the reading public via bookstores and, of course, the Internet.

When you independently publish your book, or self-publish, you are, in effect, the publisher. You control everything from the book cover design and the interior layout to the marketing and distribution of your book. You will sell most of your printed books and ebooks via the Internet, but you will also work with a printer who will fulfill your books to anyone who buys them.

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Ghostwriting a Successful Self-Help Book and Successfully Marketing It

The End of 1 book cover

This book, about the extraordinary benefits of a lactose-free diet, was written by Chris Reese and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Writing a self-help book or collaborating with a ghostwriting partner on a how-to book is a great way to scratch all kinds of creative itches. Perhaps you’re really good at a particular craft, sport, profession, or art and would like to share your knowledge. Maybe you’re an outstanding cook with recipes you’ve collected over the years, or you would like to share business and leadership skills you’ve perfected.  Even if a topic is not readily apparent to you, there are tips and techniques for writing a self-help book that can help you get started. There are also important steps that need to be taken in marketing the book you’ve just created.

Let’s start with the basics:

Self-Help and How-To represent is the most popular genre in the book industry. Before you share your idea with an established ghost writer, it’s a good idea to understand the market to avoid pitfalls later on. Don’t follow the pack. Think outside the box. Look into the future.

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A Book, Well Designed, is a Work of Art

God in My Closet - Sonya Black

God in My closet, an inspiring story about one woman’s journey from darkness to light, was written by Sonya Black and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Picture a book. Hold a book in your hands. Feel the texture.  Examine the cover. Look at the publication page, the dedication, the acknowledgments.  Even before you’ve opened to the first page, you’ve come face-to-face with a work of art.

Look at the binding, the spine, the crispness of the book jacket. The book designer is, like the writer, an artist. Most of us love the feel of a book in our hands. The weight, the shape, the construction. There is a bit of magic there, no denying.

Art is a pleasure-filled thing. Place yourself before a beautiful painting or run your hands over a well-crafted sculpture, and there is a sense of calm and appreciation that seems a part of our DNA. A book is no different. The writer pours heart and soul in the crafting of a story or the creation of a captivating character, and this is no different from the painter spending hours turning a blank canvas into an expression of emotion.  Then that manuscript is entrusted to a man or woman who may or may not have any writing skill: the book designer. What they do have is a passion for seeing to the evolution of that manuscript into a finished book that does justice to the blood, sweat, and tears that the writer invested into the words.

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Indie Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

Surreal Estate, a story about Palm Beach real estate corruption, was written by Sugar M. and published by Graham Publishing Group.

You’re heard the stories about the incredible success that The Martian and 50 Shades of Grey had after their authors chose to launch the books via self-publication. You’ve very likely heard of Hugh Howey and A.G.Riddle. They earned their wings via self-publishing as well. But if you asked these four very successful authors if they preferred the term “self-published author” or “indie author,” they would probably tell you that it all depends on your approach to the industry.

In some people’s eyes, self-publishing implies a less professional approach to the publishing world, where the authors do pretty much everything themselves. Some would say it infers a hobby, not a business.  Whether this is true or not is debatable.

Indie publishing implies that you have chosen to independently publish your book as well, but that you have also chosen to work with professionals in the areas of book design, book layout, marketing and sales, as well as distribution and fulfillment.  You’ve chosen to make the publishing and sale of your books a business from top to bottom.

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