Most books are set up in Adobe InDesign. Very few independent authors subscribe to Indesign, and therefore have no capacity to directly edit or correct their own book. Typically they will supply a list of corrections to the designer. However, Adobe have recently added an interesting feature to InDesign that will at give authors the chance to at least annotate the PDF proof, and have the designer import the PDF (and annotations) directly into Indesign (provided the comments are properly made). This should increase the speed and accuracy of book proofing and streamline the workflow. An article on the process from Adobe.
Most independent authors opt to upload their print-on-demand book files to Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly Createspace) or to Ingram Spark/Lightning Source. Hence, designers tend to choose book sizes that conform to the standard sizes supported by these two providers (the sizes are very similar between the two platforms. The pages that detail the standard sizes for KDP are here, and for Ingram Spark here. For a head to head comparison of the two services, check out this article. Others argue for using both services at once.
In his youth James O’Brien was a republican firebrand, campaigning against the British presence in Northern Ireland and sympathetic with the aims, if not always the methods, of the IRA. Time and experience mellowed his views and he left Ireland for a prosperous life in Australia. We designed the cover for his memoir some years ago, and recently adjusted the layout for an audio book version he created in conjunction with Findaway Voices.
The ebook landscape is dominated by Amazon Kindle, but there is a world of ebook consumption beyond Jeff Bezos’ realm. Smashwords aggregates together a number of ebook selling services as does its newer competitor Draft2Digital. Kindlepreneur has done yeoman’s work in comparing the two services in detail, even going to the trouble of contacting their respective CEOs. Spoiler alert: Draft2Digital wins!
Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing world. Listeners can login to audiobook services such as Audible, Playster of Apple Books on almost any device, and listen at home, the car or while walking. In short, it is a portable and very immediate format. Until recently, the process of recording a professional ebook has largely been restricted to publishers, due to the expenses involved. However, audiobook recording services have been established aimed at independent authors. An author client recently recounted their experience using Findaway Voices, and was vocal in praise of their service. This article posted at the Creative Penn in mid 2018 largely echoes his praise. Amazon’s own audibook recording service to authors is here.
Uber, everyone’s favourite “move fast and break things” startup/world consuming corporate giant, has just installed a new look. How much of it is effective and how much is marketing doublespeak and gobbledygook, I will leave to you to decide. But rest assured that the designers have been paid handsomely for their work. Uber Move is quite a pretty typeface family, though.
Three recent draft covers: a hard-driving thriller, a detailed family history and a gritty young adult story. Plenty of contrast and big bold typefaces. Typefaces include Korolev, Sentinel, Alternative Gothic.
Trevor Hay has spent his professional life studying Chinese culture and history, and brings this knowledge and sensitivity to bear in his novels, which very often relate to the Western experience of China. We combined a number of images around a famous artwork — that of the Fragrant Concubine, a semi-mythical eighteenth century figure. We used Kepler for the title typeface.
From the Department of AI is Coming for Your Job: an algorithm that does a pretty fair job of separating a human in an image from its background. I uploaded the image of the woman at left, and downloaded the result at right, all in a few seconds. Check it out here. The free version works at limited resolution. There is a paid version (naturally) that works at much higher resolution. The underlying technology is pretty impressive.
Mala Naidoo depicts complicated human relationships in her novels, her authorial eye remaining consistently wise and warm. We wanted to convey the depth and subtlety of her protagonists, opting for a dramatic sky with layered faces and a large, classical serif typeface (Mort Modern).
Some recent cover designs with the usual variety of subject matter. Contemporary fiction, psychology, thrillers and family histories. Never a boring moment…
The book of the future was supposed to be an amazing digital, virtual thing, anticipated eagerly by every second futurist, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. An interesting article in Wired about how we got to the current ebook landscape (hint: involves an all conquering behemoth named after a big river). And print books are still a thing, thank goodness. And here’s an interesting quote for all the independent authors out there:
Peter Ralph writes fast-moving financial thrillers. Recently he wanted to bundle together three of his ebooks to sell as one unit. Though the books are packets of digital information, they are promoted online as physical objects, as if they were an actual ‘box’ set. So we created a graphic showing the three cased books in all their virtual/physical glory.
New Zealand type designer Kris Sowersby (National, Tiempos, Caliber) has some interesting things to say about type design and originality in this talk, given at TypeCon in 2018. He vigorously rejects any suggestion that type design is played out, and that new versions of old standards are a bad thing.
Kathryn Gauci writes with insight and sensitivity about the difficult and intertwined histories of Greece and Turkey, and also about the great drama of the Second World War. Her characters are caught up in the flow of events, and often forced to deal with great tragedies and make impossible choices. The Carpet Weaver of Usak depicts Greeks living alongside Turks in Asia Minor, a circumstance almost unimaginable today. Typefaces used: Orpheus Pro and Playfair italic. Code Name Camille explores the world of the Resistance in France, and the attendant dangers and betrayals.
Presenting an informative and inspiring post from independent author Mala Naidoo:
Starting out as a writer was a romantic inclination, a desire to bring my writing dream to reality.
Little did I realise how important it is to create awareness that you exist, first as a person and then specifically as a writer. Later genre and style become recognisable to readers who are also feeling their way through the stories crafted by a new author.
Striking a balance between writing and marketing your books is paramount, if you want your books in the hands of readers through online or in store purchases.
Starting off with friends, colleagues and family is necessary. Your supportive core, in your writing career, will always be vital for feedback on all your books.
Some of the ways to create awareness and promote your books
is by extending your readership.
How do we do this, let us count the ways.
- Promote your books in your local community, book stores, libraries and book clubs. Offer and accept speaking engagements at book club meetings, school talks and at your local library.
- Talk about your book covers and what they mean, the visual impact - colours, placement of images etc. This has value in eliciting interest.
Cover Design: WorkingType (www.workingtype.com.au)
- Hosting a book launch when your first book is out, attracts curiosity, interest and gets attention. An afternoon tea with light refreshments is a winner to draw a wider crowd. Friends and colleagues are excited for you and offer to assist on the day. As introverts, as most writers are, (we lock ourselves in solitude for days on end) it’s not easy to solicit assistance and market your books - but it’s an essential requirement. The after effects of a book launch are book leads - requests for more books and where they might be available.
- Befriend, online or in person local independent bookstores in your town or city, and through friends in other cities to get your book online and in stores, then encourage readers to purchase your books through these channels. This helps to get your print book into stores, maybe not on the same shelf as Stephen King or Lianne Moriarty, but it gets a space, a tangible space.
- Create a website to reach your readers through blog posts, and newsletters, invite readers in to take up your free offers, create fun giveaways for your subscribers. A simple fact file on a character your readers love is all you need to spur on their interest to read more of your books. It’s an ongoing, strategic process.
- Join online author associations to promote your books or at the very least to create awareness that you exist as a writer.
- Facebook ads are a great way to create awareness and invite the purchase of your book or sign ups to your newsletter. A permanent Facebook Ad for sign ups is necessary when you begin promoting your books, website, and blog.
- When you have a new book out, launch it through Facebook and AMS ads, send out friendly newsletter or messenger communication to your contacts telling them about your new book.
- Don’t overkill the advertising, do it tastefully to keep readers coming back for more.
- Online interactions with influencers of the craft, attending book fairs, writers’ festivals, listening to podcasts and attending webinars are great ways to connect with like-minded creatives, to extend the promotion of your books. Be selective in your choices because it’s easy to drown in a sea of algorithmic advice!
- Create awareness of all your books on Facebook (pin to top), Twitter,(pinned tweet) Instagram (create a cover story, add updated information related to your writing journey). Pinterest (pins that showcase your books with links) Google+, your website and blogposts.
At first I was awkward talking about my books. Fear held me back. Now I have a little story to tell: One day a lovely hairdresser probed into my silent, private world, I managed to slip in, amidst the heat and whirring of hairdryers, a quick biographical sketch, whispering that I was a writer too. Curiosity grew in the hairdressing salon from that whispered revelation as ladies, and the odd gentleman wanted to know more about my books. Having your latest book at the ready is a loaded gun for promotion, as is having an author business card, especially at the places like the hairdresser!
Writing is a process, just as marketing and creating awareness of your latest publication is. Both need equal attention. It’s a balance I continue to work on.
Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating!
Mala Naidoo writes literary fiction — she prefers evocative, atmospheric cover images. For this collection of short stories. the composition we designed incorporated four images, including the barely visible hut in the woods (featured in one of her stories). The title typeface is Roman SD and the subtitle and author name use Essonnes.