Articles tagged "design"

The 6 DIY Cover Tips You Need for Your Book

10 min read

Poll veterans of self-publishing, and you’ll likely hear the same advice from all of them: get an editor and get a professional cover designer. There are many factors to consider, but if you’re an author with aspirations for your book, you cannot forego an interior edit and a well-designed cover.

The editorial assistance you may be able to solicit from friends or family to avoid paying for the professional touch. The contents could end up less than pristine, but the book may not suffer. Readers can forgive a misspelling here and there, or a clunky sentence now and then. If the story compels them and is well crafted otherwise, editing for content can be done without paying a professional editor (though if you have the option, I strongly recommend getting a professional editor).

The cover though, that’s another story. Without an eye-grabbing cover, the book is likely to struggle just to get a reader to consider it. A bad cover can ruin a great book. I bet you’ve heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, the saying is true: you can’t always tell how good the book will be just looking at the cover. A terrible book might have an eye-catching cover, and a terrific book might have a bland and unexciting cover. But the terrible book will have a leg up when it comes to marketing and promoting with that eye-catching cover.

Don’t let your book be held back by a poorly designed cover. It can be easy not to think to much about the cover if your focus is on writing, but if you plan to self-publish and want to grab some readers, you’re going to need to spend some time really thinking about and working on your cover.

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Writing Toolbox: Microsoft Word

3 min read

Microsoft Office is a widely-used tool for creation, design, editing, and formatting. And Microsoft Word in particular is powerful, and being the most common word processor on the market, it is the software the majority of writers will employ. At least at some point during the writing and editing process.

MS Word is a hefty tool, and has a variety of uses for authors, from word processing, to format, to layout, to review and editing. Some authors even use Word to layout their book’s cover! With the huge variety of applications Word has, we’ll focus today on how to best use Word as a self-publishing author, the benefits and challenges of Word, and some important publishing specific tips.

To begin with, the basics. If you are completely new to Word, I encourage you to use Microsoft’s vast support literature to learn about the software. With a rudimentary understanding the tool, you can create a manuscript entirely from scratch, and prep that same file for publishing.

The first phase (writing the manuscript) is the area Word struggles the most. It’s easy to get sidetracked in layout, or to tinker with design, rather than focusing on the project. And with no stripped down focus mode, the risk of distraction is ever present. [Note – Microsoft is introducing a Focus View, and some may already have access to it, depending on their version and updates]

Where Word really shines is after you’ve written the content.

First, you’ll be editing and proofing the book. Word has a function called ‘Track Changes’ under the Review menu.

Track Changes creates a column on the right side of the document, listing any edits performed. This includes deleting or adding text, updating any existing text, new formatting, and provides the opportunity for in document notation. The notes (called ‘Comments’) allow you and your editors/proofreaders to make changes and have a conversation within the document, without making anything permanent. The file will be a true living document, and the flow of ideas can run back and forth until you settle on phrasing, organization, and other elements of the manuscripts design. If you like a change, or have acted on a comment, they can be ‘Accepted’ to remove them from the running list of Track Changes and keep the interface nice and clean.

Once you’ve got the editing done and you’re happy with the text, you’ll move on to the layout and design of the pages. This is the second piece of MS Word that brings a great deal of control and flexibility to your document.

The layout and design options are so vast, we don’t have the time to go over all of them. But really, I could write a book about all the ways you can utilize MS Word to customize and tweak your manuscript. For now, we’ll focus on a couple of necessities for printing.

The first being page size. Your file needs to be sized to match your book size. Use the ‘Layout’ menu in Word to set the page size for the entire document. I recommend doing a Select All (Command/Control + A) prior to resizing. It’s key to note that the standard US Trade size 6 x 9 is not built into Word’s page size presets, so you’ll need to add it as a custom size.

The second piece to be closely aware of are the margins. Word can automatically build in a Gutter margin for you, and align this to the correct side of the page. These controls live under the ‘Layout’ menu. MS Word has a great help section about how to set up and manage Margins.

Along with the critical layout and design tools, Word can be used to manipulate the content on the page. Breaks (both Page and Section) give you control over the positioning of content, and images can be placed in line with text, behind text, or nested with the text through Word’s ‘Picture’ menu.

Here’s a quick list of the elements most relevant to self-publishing you should familiarize yourself with:

  • Page Size
  • Margins/Gutter
  • Styles
  • Font and Line Spacing
  • Header/Footer Control
  • Breaks (Page and Section)
  • Page Numbering and Table of Contents
  • Inserting and Positioning Images

Using the variety of tools within Word, you can control the line spacing, fonts, sizing, space between paragraphs, and so much more!

 

Bookend Your Book: Front Matter and Back Matter

2 min read

Books consist of many components, all of them important when creating a full, complete, and professional work. One of these components that often causes self-published authors pause is the Front Matter and Back Matter.

While these components are in two separate locations in the book (the front and the back), they serve essentially the same purpose: they bookend you content, propping it up with important information that your reader may not need, but should have available. Allow me to elaborate.

Front Matter

The front matter is everything on the pages leading up to the actual content. This will include title pages, copyright, dedication, acknowledgments, and a table of contents. Now this is self-publishing, so none of this content is mandatory (except the copyright page for a book in distribution) but it is best practices to hold to some publishing industry standards.

A common layout for front matter pages might look like this:

  1. Half title
  2. Blank
  3. Full title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication (Optional)
  6. Also by {{Author Name}}
  7. Acknowledgments (Optional)
  8. Blank
  9. Table of Contents

From here, you’ll start your contents, remembering that odd pages appear on the right, so you may have to insert a blank page to locate your first contents page on the correct side of the book. Again, how you organize and utilize all of the front matter materials is up to you. The above example is a common layout and one many authors use. You may need to edit to suit your specific needs. For example, some authors prefer to add the Acknowledgments to the back matter.

Its also common to use a different font or a slightly smaller font for the front matter. This serves as a visual clue for readers, so they’ll know when the book’s contents begin.

Back Matter

The back matter should be after the contents end. This material serves to prompt your reader to continue engaging with you and your work. The back matter consists of the following pieces:

  • Acknowledgments (Optional)
  • About the Author
  • Advertising for back list or upcoming titles
  • Sample from a forthcoming title
  • Connections to your social media, author website, and Newsletter

You can be creative with your back matter more so than your front matter. The goal is to prompt readers to continue to engage, so a call to connect is a very good idea. Using images here can be very effective too. Include an image with your about the author page. Show an image of your forthcoming title’s cover. Even if you’re printing in black & white, having an image will catch your reader’s eye. If they pause only a moment on the page, they might see your call to connect, like you on Facebook, subscribe to your newsletter or blog, and be that much more likely to buy your next edition.

Remember, there is no strict formula for setting up the front and back matter for you book. These elements bookend your content, the front matter providing specifics related to the content primarily, and the back matter focuses on keeping your reader invested after they’ve consumed the content. Make the most of your book, include high quality front and back matter.

Opening the Writing Toolbox

5 min read

We’ve come a long way from pen and paper. A long way. In fact, with modern technology we have more options for writing than any one person can easily process. With this excess of choice, it’s wise to take some time to consider the different tools available to you and make informed decisions about how to spend your writing budget.

Today, we’ll look over a few of the ‘standards’ in terms of writing software.

Microsoft Word

MS Word is one of the most accepted and versatile writing tools in the world. Despite Word’s perfectly adequate word processing, it is the tool you’ll want primarily after you’ve written. Word, at its core, is a formatting and layout tool.

Because the word processing is relatively easy, many writers will use Word exclusively as their writing tool. And for most this will be just fine. But for some, the tools and style controls will be cumbersome, and the sheer volume of options overwhelming. For the writer who demands a simple, versatile writing tool focused on just getting the text typed up, Word may be too much.

The best way to use Microsoft Word is as an editing and design tool. You can take a completed manuscript and give it the final touches it needs prior to publishing, as well as export a PDF in a variety of formats to accommodate your printing needs.

It is also worth noting that Word, as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, is one of the more expensive writing tools on the market. Thanks to all the editing and design tools built in, along with the utility of the entire Office Suite, Microsoft’s product is important for any serious writer, and is generally considered the standard for word processing tools.

Libre Office

A free, what you see is what you get, Microsoft Office replacement. Libre Office offers much the same functionality as Microsoft. For those who want the editing and design power of Word without the price tag, you’ll get that same functionality with Libre Office. The controls and navigation will differ, so a user familiar with MS Word may be put off by the learning curve when using Libre Office’s word processor. If you’re very comfortable with Word, the transition to Libre Office may be jarring. But as a completely free to use, open source alternative, Libre Office is a powerful tool.

Another difference to note is that Libre, being free and open source, doesn’t have any dedicated support in the way MS Word or other commercial software d0es. If a problem arises, you’ll have a fairly thorough wiki page and a community forum to rely on, but nothing more.

Scrivener

While Microsoft and Libre Office offer tools for writing alongside layout and design, Scrivener is a writing focused tool with a multitude of functions to assist in the creation process. This includes storyboard layout, utilizing a ‘Binder’ to contain all elements in one easily navigable location. Focused Mode puts all other tabs and programs in the background, allowing you to avoid distraction while writing.

Scrivener is a complete writing tool, though it should not be relied upon for formatting or layout details. Many common features (page sizing, margins, font control) are present, and allow you to play with some of the layout, but the real power of Scrivener is in organizing your ideas and generating the initial content. The utility Scrivener offers, coupled with the clean, no nonsense writer will appeal to writers of all sorts.

As an added benefit, the software stores your files through a Dropbox link, meaning you can work on your content across multiple machines, and even with an iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. What Scrivener lacks in versatility, it makes up for in utility.

Sigil

Sigil is a unique program designed specifically for working with EPUB files. It is also a fully functioning word processor and if you plan to release your book primarily as an EPUB, the option is there to work solely in Sigil.

For most writers, I would not recommend using Sigil as your Word Processor. The tool will be too foreign, and the output can only be an EPUB file, so working in Sigil alone will not produce anything appropriate for print ready use.

But, for a more advanced user interested in fine tuning a book for EPUB use, Sigil is a powerful, easy to use tool with all the options you’ll need to create a high quality EPUB. Unfortunately, Sigil does not have an option to import a text file from other word processing tools like Word or Libre Office, but text can be copied into Sigil. More often than not, users will find Sigil most beneficial for editing and fine tuning an existing EPUB file.

If you are planning to only create an ebook (no print files necessary), you might find Sigil a nice tool for writing and editing, as the simplified text tools will limit you to only the options an EPUB can support. And once you’ve completed your ebook, Sigil can be used to generate the necessary metadata and table of contents for your work.

Evernote

Evernote is a handy note-taking and organizational tool. You probably won’t be composing a complete piece within Evernote, but you can easily write on the go and export to standard file types. You’ll have the security of cloud storage, so your Evernote files will be secure and accessible.

The real power of Evernote is in its versatility. If you are already an Evernote user, you’ll know how handy it can be to have an App capable of organizing your calendar, holding your notes, reminding you to go to the grocery store after work, and so much more. Evernote is a one stop, cross platform, multi-purpose productivity tool.

With an array of features, Evernote is really a very powerful tool to have available. But it is not the best when it comes to being a useful writing program. Yes, it’s helpful for catching notes on the run (using mobile) and syncing to your devices. Organizing and writing up anything more than a few hundreds words is going to be tedious, and probably beyond the purpose of Evernote. Same thing goes for formatting. Evernote is a not a formatting tool.

The bottom line? Evernote is a great tool for note taking and organizing, but not ideal for layout or story boarding.

FocusWriter

FocusWriter is less well known than the other software we looked at today, but it boasts a couple of useful and unique features worth mentioning. FocusWriter, like Scrivener, stores your files in the cloud, allowing for easy cross platform use and the security of knowing your files are safe. FocusWriter also features a focus mode like Scrivener, allowing you to push all other functions on your device to the background and focus on just writing.

The biggest upside of FocusWriter is that it is a free text editor and word processor. You can download the tool and begin writing immediately without paying a cent. Formatting and design will need to be handled elsewhere, but for a cost effective, clean, and efficient first draft tool, FocusWriter is well worth a look.


These are just a handful of the more commonly used word processing tools out there. For a more in depth look at some of these programs, check out our complete series:

Writer’s Toolbox: Microsoft Word

Writer’s Toolbox: Scrivener

Writer’s Toolbox: Evernote

 

 

Book Publishing: The Economics of Self-Publishing

2 min read

Self-publishing is a demanding project to take on. As a writer, you’ve already labored over the words and phrases of your book, researched and studied the ins and outs of writing effectively, developed plots and characters…you’ve done a lot of work! Now to get the manuscript published, you’ve got to take on even more roles, notably laying out the book, designing a cover, ensuring the content is error free, actually publishing, establishing an ISBN, claiming a copyright, distributing…AND THEN you’re just at the beginning of the sales portion of your self-publishing journey.

Once the book is finally done and published, you’re new task is pushing your book, establishing contacts, leads, engaging readers through book signings, and selling both online and by hand. Publishing itself may seem easy at this point. Profitably publishing, now that is a challenge.

You might stop at this point and think “why bother?” Why go the self-publishing route? Why take the time, energy, and money to do all the work yourself (or hire designers/editors to assist you) when you could pitch the book to traditional publishers, hand the book over to them, claim a nice advance, and sit back while they do the heavy lifting?

There’s one really good reason to go the self-publishing route. And what better way to convey that reason than an infographic!

That’s a lot of information, I know. Let’s break down two of the most important points:

1) Revenue – Self-Published authors earn 80% of their revenue for each sale with Lulu. In the above example, selling 3,000 copies resulted in four times the revenue earned! Earning power and potential is one of two differences that will lure a writer to self-publish (the other being editorial control). When you sell your work, you want it to truly me your work and you want to earn what you deserve. We agree, and by putting the author in the driver’s seat, we can direct substantially more revenue to the author.

2) Sales by Publisher – This is interesting enough to be worth looking again at the specific segment of the inforgraphic. Look at those Yellow portions. That’s the piece of the book selling market (ebook and print) including just Indie and Single Author publishing. 41% of ebooks, and 27% of Amazon print bestsellers. Think on that a moment. An idea (self-publishing) that is only fifteen years old has already taken over more than a quarter of the biggest bookseller in the world. And that doesn’t even include small and medium sized publishers.

 

Traditional publishing is out there. And if you can get your book picked up by a publisher, it might be right for you. But if you’re looking to make the most from each sale, to retain control over your work, and to have the freedom to publish just the way you want, Lulu is the only real option. The book is yours! You wrote it, so you should see the profits.

If you need some more information to get started publishing, check out the Lulu Toolkit!

2017 Book Expo America and Book Con

2 min read

It’s that time of year again! Book Expo America and Book Con are coming to New York City May 31 through June 2. Come out and get serious about your publishing with a variety of other authors, readers, publishers, and book marketers.

As you would expect, Lulu will have a booth at the Expo, and we’ll be hanging out throughout the event, giving out cool prizes, promoting self-publishing, and enjoying all the terrific events and speakers BEA has to offer.

The Expo includes are range of speakers, including Hillary Clinton on the main stage June 1, as well as Mary Higgins Clark, Neil Patrick Harris, R.L. Stine, and Stephen King throughout the event.

Each day will also feature sessions on a variety of publishing industry. There are so many, I’m not even going to try to list them here. Just head over to the Expo’s Session’s page to find the comprehensive list. For anyone involved in the publishing industry, you’ll find something among these sessions to pique your interests and expand your publishing knowledge.

And if all that isn’t enough, the second half of the event will be the reader driven Book Expo, with their own unique list of speakers, including authors Dan Brown and Bill Nye. Find their complete main stage list here. The two events combine to provide a thorough perspective of the industry from writing and publishing, through to marketing and reading. There is something for everyone at the Book Expo and Convention!

Now that I’ve tantalized you with all those great speakers and expansive list of sessions hosted at the event, I’ve got the best for last.

Of course I mean the Lulu Booth. Come find us at #2258 on the Expo floor. We’ll be there with a bunch of awesome Lulu gear, including notebooks and pens to start planning your next novel, water bottles to keep you hydrated, and an awesome mystery prize for a few of our lucky visitors! Plus we’ll be spinning our prize wheel for give-a-ways and handing out lots of free self-publishing advice.

Please please come see us and help celebrate everything book at the Book Expo and Convention!

 

Maximum Formats

3 min read

If you’re self-publishing, you have the unique ability to take advantage of all available formats with the click of your fingers.

Most books these days will appear in both print and ebook formats. It’s common to find the newest best sellers showing up on bookstore shelves in hardcover, and some months later in paperback, and later still in the even more economical trade paperback. All the while, the ebook will be available through online retailers.

Oddly enough, this trend hasn’t taken hold in the self-publishing world, despite that producing a book in all format types is astonishingly easy. In fact, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to take a self-published book you’ve already created, and release it in a variety of formats.

The reason is this: once you’ve made one book, once you’ve prepared the files for interior and cover, you’ve done 90% of the work for any additional versions you might like to make. The real challenging work of formatting, doing layout, designing the cover, and actually editing and proofing the book is already done. All you need to do is make additional projects, perform a few format updates, and publish!

Print

Paperback print books are the most common choice among self-published authors. We see the vast majority of books created in the 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 sizes. If you’ve opted for one of these sizes, creating a hardcover project will be simple!

With you Print File prepared, follow these steps to create a Hardcover book:

  1. Adjust page sizes – Make certain to set your pages to make the size of your book. Lulu offers hardcover in 6 x 9 and 8.25 x 10.75 for both dust jacket and case wrap.
    **If you made a 6 x 9 or 8.5 x 11 paperback, you will not need to resize your interior file to make a hardcover book**
  2. Update the copyright page – Your new format will need a unique ISBN, so update the Copyright page to reflect that.
  3. Update the cover – Hardcover books have different margins and bleeds for the cover. If you’re using the same cover as the paperback, you’ll have to adjust it to allow for those changes. Also be sure to update the barcode with your new ISBN.

Ebook

Ebooks did not spell the end of printing as some predicted years ago. Instead, they carved out a portion of the market as an accompaniment to printed books. An ebook is a simple means of presenting options for your readers, and is so easy to do, you should absolutely take advantage and create one.

  1. Open your Print File in MS Word – Select all the contents and clear formatting.
  2. Update the Copyright page to include your new ISBN
  3. Set the title, copyright, dedication, and any other front matter to Heading 1
  4. Set all Chapter titles to Heading 2.
  5. Remove all Header/Footer content. Remove all Text Boxes.
  6. Set all images ‘in line’ with text, and all text justification should be set to the ‘left.’

The cover for your ebook can be the same as your print. Just use the front cover alone as the ebook cover, and resize it to match the ebook cover specifications.

Detailed instructions and specifications.

Diversity is incredible important when selling your book, both online and by hand. Think about it like this: you’ll never again lose a sale because the buyer doesn’t want to wait for shipping. They can order an ebook! And the customer who simply loves hardcover books and is willing to spend a little more to get that can do so!

Best of all, making multiple formats can be completely free, and only takes a minimal investment of time and effort.

Don’t wait, get your book out there now with Lulu’s variety of available formats.