Book Tips

Make your book cover copy POP!

Tips for non-fiction book covers

People do judge books by their covers—the front cover AND the back cover. For non-fiction books, I recommend having a catchy phrase at the top of the back cover. This is the “hook” that draws people in and makes them want to read more. Don’t simply repeat the book title in this valuable space. 

Then, describe your book in a paragraph or two, followed by a bulleted list of what the reader will gain from reading your non-fiction book. End with a paragraph about you (the author) and your credentials on the topic. Include a professional picture of yourself to help readers relate to you. Testimonials/endorsements/blurbs help sell books so it’s best to gather and include those, too.

ISBN

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. It is the tracking number through the publishing industry. It identifies the publisher of the book and allows for efficient distribution. Each edition of a book needs an ISBN, so a paperback, hardcover, and ePub ebook file of the same material each require a unique ISBN. That’s why I generally recommend buying a block of ten numbers. For more information, please see the list under the heading Book Publishing Numbers on the Resources page of my website.

Does your book need an index?

Book index award

We often flip to the back of a book and consult the index when we need to find something. Otherwise, I imagine we don’t spend too much time thinking about book indexes.

Sheila Ryan, owner of Ryan Indexing, has made a career out of creating book indexes. Earlier this year she won the 2019 American Society for Indexing Excellence Award for her index of The Churchill Documents, Volume 21, The Shadows of Victory, January–July 1945. It’s a 100-page index of a 2150-page book (I know because I formatted the text).

Congratulations, Sheila!

Upcoming conference

The Publishers Association of the West (PubWest) is an excellent resource for publishers. The PubWest 2020 Conference will be held February 20–22, 2020 at the Portland Hilton, Portland, Oregon.

Help for Independent Presses

Book Design and Production

Have you written a nonfiction or fiction manuscript? After it has been professionally edited, I can design the interior pages and cover, plus guide you through the maze of book publishing and printing. To get started, call me at 503-690-2438 to discuss your project and my helpful guide for authors.

Publishing timeline

Christmas in July

Daylily

What’s up with the “Christmas in July” subhead when it’s June? 

I’d like you to be thinking about how much time it takes to publish a book. 

After a book is written, there can be multiple stages of editing and then book design as well as printing and distribution. Ideally, marketing is happening during these stages.

I’ve had many authors rush to launch their books for the Christmas buying season. Rushing doesn’t allow for the best finished product, although amazing things have been accomplished!

If it is your wish to launch your book before Christmas, let’s talk now.

P.S. It’s helpful to allow time for the unexpected, too. I’d like to extend gratitude to my colleagues who backed me up so I could be with my parents as they both made their transitions over the winter. (The photo above is of a Daylily plant my mom gave me. It makes me happy to see it blooming now.)

Resources

I have compiled a page of Resources to help independent/self-publishers. Included is an article about “Why Marketing First” by Carol White. I met Carol years ago when we were both members of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. Her article is a timeless piece of good advice.

New release

Kira Lynne Allen’s Write This Second: A Poetic Memoir is a courageous book of poetry. I designed the cover and interior pages.

Help for Independent Presses

Book Design and Production

Have you written a nonfiction or fiction manuscript? After it has been professionally edited, I can design the interior pages and cover, plus guide you through the maze of book publishing and printing. To get started, call me at 503-690-2438 to discuss your project and my helpful guide for authors.

Self-published books surpass 1 million

Self-published books

The number of self-published books passed the one million mark last year. “According to the latest report from ProQuest affiliate Bowker, self-publishing grew at a rate of more than 28 percent in 2017, up from an 8 percent increase during the prior year. The total number of self-published titles grew from 786,935 to 1,009,188, surpassing the million mark for the first time.” (Source: Bowker.)

In gratitude

I’m so thankful for my clients…and everyone. Life. All of it. There is so much to learn and experience.

Some of my clients share their experiences so I can report industry information to you. Here are some nuggets.

With Teresa Neumann’s latest book, we learned that IngramSpark’s automatic conversion to an ePub file from a PDF file doesn’t let you review the results of the ebook conversion prior to releasing it. That’s worrisome, but the process seems to be quite good.

Maureen Driscoll told me about BookBub’s marketing blog, which is full of valuable tips. Here are two posts:

Social media platforms help sell books and it’s most effective when our posts are varied. Stumped about what to post? Diana Urban shares tips in her article “How Successful Authors Use Social Media: 23 Content Ideas.”

“50 Inspirational Marketing Tips from Authors [Free Flipbook!]” by Diana Urban.

New release

Just in time for gift giving (to yourself and others) comes Greg Bell’s What’s Going Well?: The question that changes everything along with a companion journal filled with inspirational quotations. I was uplifted as I designed the book and journal interior pages so I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

Help for Independent Presses

Book Design and Production

Have you written a nonfiction or fiction manuscript? After it has been professionally edited, I can design the interior pages and cover, plus guide you through the maze of book publishing and printing. To get started, call me at 503-690-2438 to discuss your project and my helpful guide for authors.

ALL Publications turns 24 years old!

Book design tip

In book design, a widow is a short line ending a paragraph that appears at the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page or column. Per The Chicago Manual of Style, widows should be avoided. Orphans are okay because they are always a full line, never a word or two.

When I was presenting a book design workshop at a Willamette Writers Conference years ago, a woman said that the house style of her publisher, the Penguin Group, was to allow widows if they were a full line.

“Self-published books don’t usually look this professional,” was what my client Pauli Halstead was told by the traditional publisher who picked up her book. My goal is to make a book look as professional as possible so it can easily compete with traditionally published books. I follow the rules in The Chicago Manual of Style and I work with kerning or the number of lines on the page to eliminate widows in the books I design.

Happy birthday!

Ready for the party!

ALL Publications turns 24 years old on October 24! The first 12 years I spent writing and designing newsletters and brochures, and the last 12 years I’ve focused solely on book design, which I love. The number of authors who return with more books for me to design amazes me because publishing can be hard work. Not to mention book marketing.

As successful authors have found, they are their own best marketers. Even traditional publishers want to know about their authors’ “platforms” and how they are going to market their own books.

For help with marketing, M.J. Rose has written “How to Write Attention-Grabbing Promo Copy for Books.”

New releases

Maureen Driscoll released book 4 in the Jasmine Cottage series: Where Souls Embrace. I had the privilege of designing this cover, as well as her others, and she frequently tells me when readers mention they purchase based on the covers. Here’s one such comment.

Finding Land: Stories of Japan by Marian Pierce chronicles the adventures of two card-carrying members of the Tokyo’s “Foreign Wives of Japanese” club at the height of Japan’s economic boom years. I designed the cover and interior pages of the print book. Marian presented at a workshop (good marketing!) and her firecracker personality comes through at 26 minutes into this video.

Cannonball Run 1919: A Transcontinental Motorcycle Journey by Vahan M. Dinihanian, Jr., is based on the diary of Erling J. Hangerud. It illustrates two adventurous young men who rode from Portland, Oregon, to New York City via the Yellowstone Trail on a 1918 Indian Powerplus and a 1918 Harley-Davidson. Their mishaps and successes take us back to that era, along with vignettes describing significant historical details relevant to their journey. I designed the cover and full-color interior.

I formatted the interior (2180 pages) of The Churchill Documents, Volume 21, plus co-created the cover design. Volume 22 is now with Sheila Ryan for indexing. One more volume to go!

Help for Independent Presses

Book Design and Production

Have you written a nonfiction or fiction manuscript? After it has been professionally edited, I can design the interior pages and cover, plus guide you through the maze of book publishing and printing. To get started, call me at 503-690-2438 to discuss your project and my helpful guide for authors.

Stopping a rumor

Amazon CreateSpace

After presenting at an Oregon Press Women’s Workshop at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon

I gave a presentation about book design at an Oregon Press Women’s Workshop in June. There were comments at this workshop about Amazon CreateSpace going away. CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) arm, which has been a helpful service for indie publishers. CreateSpace has discontinued offering book editing and book design services, but the POD service is still very much around. I’m here to design and format your books for uploading to CreateSpace, so no worries. Please contact me if you’d like more information about my services.

Book design tip

In the interest of good typography, please meet the Dash family: hyphen, en dash, and em dash. We know the hyphen, which is a punctuation mark used to separate syllables and join words. Lesser known members of the family are the en dash and em dash. An en dash is the second-longest dash in a typeface, separating numbers and meaning “up to and including.” An em dash is the longest dash in a typeface, separating thoughts within a sentence and acting as a pause.

An exceptional proofreader will apply the correct dashes to a manuscript. If this hasn’t happened, you’ll likely want to make sure your book designer handles it. I do, and I also honor an author’s decision to use an en dash in place of an em dash. (Some feel the em dash looks too long.) One of the many benefits of self-publishing is you get it how you want it!

New releases

Teresa Neumann took on the daunting task of analyzing John Milton’s Paradise Lost and disseminating it into an easily understood version. Neumann’s Paradise Lost and Resurrected for the Twenty-First Century not only works as a book but could easily be performed on stage or screen. This is the fourth book I’ve designed (cover and interior) for Teresa.

I designed the interior of Meg Kenagy’s The House on School Street, a story of eight generations of a family who lived in an old farmhouse in a small town in Massachusetts. A biography, a memoir, and a personal history of the town, it’s not only a gift to her family but a story that will appeal to history buffs and genealogists. It was an interesting design project for me with many levels of headings, articles, pictures, and a family chart. (Meg’s article “Summer reading? It’s time to close the book on that” was published in The Boston Globe on June 22.)

I designed the cover of Second Wind: Thriving with Cancer by Dann Wonser. If you know anyone with cancer, Dann’s website is a great resource, too.

Help for Independent Presses

Book Design and Production

Have you written a nonfiction or fiction manuscript? After it has been professionally edited, I can design the interior pages and cover, plus guide you through the maze of book publishing and printing. To get started, call me at 503-690-2438 to discuss your project and my helpful guide for authors.