Book covers

Today, I’m going to talk about choosing a book cover for your book.

You want a cover that stands out and that a reader will pick up and want to look at because a cover is the first thing that they’ll see. If the cover appeals to them they’ll read the blurb on the back and maybe the first paragraph of Chapter 1 and buy your book.

Here are some things to think about when choosing your cover:

  • How do you sum up the story in one page?
  • What image represents the whole story?
  • How do you convey the title of the book in an image?
  • Do you use words?
  • Do you use images?
  • Do you use words and images?
  • Does what you’ve chosen represent the genre you’ve written?
  • Does what you’ve chosen convey what the story is about?
  • Should there be anything in the background or just a color?
  • What do you want the book’s impression to be?

When the publisher at 5310 Publishing asked me what I thought would be a good cover for my debut novel, The Complexities of Love, I immediately thought about the protagonist and how he viewed himself in society. We all know love is complex and many times we can feel hemmed in. Enter the protagonist, Mark. In Chapter One he states that he is a homosexual like the Guianan cock-of-the-rock, a gay bird albeit stuck in the confines of a cage. Pigeon-holed because of society’s beliefs about who he is meant to be, how he’s meant to live his life, and who he should marry. I imagined the  Guianan in a cage facing away from the door.

Fortunately for me, the publisher liked my idea and when he showed me the proof of my book cover I thought it was a perfect fit.

I hope the questions I’ve raised helps you in choosing your book cover. If you haven’t already purchased a copy of my debut novel the link is in the header. I’d love to know what you think about it and whether the cover matches the story. If you’ve already published a book, I’d be interested to know how you chose your book cover.

Until next time.

Journaling

Today, I’m going to talk about keeping a writing journal. You don’t have to buy an expensive journal. I got mine from the local charity shop for two dollars. In it, you can write about your thoughts, feelings, ideas, stories, poems, and notes about virtually anything to do with your creative writing ideas and aspirations.

A diary is one way of journaling. I’ve been writing in a diary since I was 12 years old. In it, I keep a daily account of my activities, thoughts, and experiences. As a writer, you can take your journal with you and write about what you’ve seen on your travels. Who were the people involved? What were they wearing, saying, etcetera? As you journal, you become more aware of your surroundings which will help you with your writing.

Another thing you could put in your journal is how you felt about what you witnessed. Did it make you feel happy or sad? Did your body tense? Did you want to walk over and say something or run/walk away? For example, someone in my train carriage got stabbed. I was sitting at the other end of the carriage. I heard a man scream. Everyone turned around to see what was happening. My body tensed. The train’s wheels screeched. The perpetrator opened the door and ran onto the platform, and the man chased him with blood dripping from his hand.

I felt a mixture of fear, sadness, relief, and anger. I was frightened the man would come and stab me. He was wearing a beanie, jeans a hoodie. He looked like he was in an altered state. The man with the stab wound was in pain, and I felt genuinely sorry for him, but none of us got up to help him. I think it was the shock of what happened that made us stay seated. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he ran onto the platform, but angry because the train wouldn’t leave the platform until the police came. I’d worked in a city office from 8.30 am and knew I wouldn’t get home until late. I could hear people whispering and newspapers opening. People were trying to look inconspicuous like nothing had happened.

You could  write a poem about what you witnessed or how you felt when you walked down the street, into the shops, to get a coffee, or when you went to work. Everything you do has a mood, thought, and feeling associated with it. Journaling will help you become more aware of yourself and how you feel at any given moment in time. It will also give you a good insight into other people and help you create realistic characters that your readers can relate to when they read your novel.

Drawing pictures and doodling are also good to do in your journal. Whatever you do, remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t put any pressure on yourself. It’s your impression of the world around you.

In my journal, I write my thoughts, feelings, and impressions in poems and sentences. I tell myself no one will read what I’ve written, and it frees me to write more. Sometimes, I can’t process how I feel, and it comes out in a word or one sentence. I liken it to therapy for my soul to better understand myself and other people. However, I realize many writers don’t like journaling. They prefer to concentrate on what they want to get published.

Do you keep a journal? Does it inspire your writing? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, happy journaling.

The Publishing Process

Book, Dog, Fairy Tales, Child, Kid

Today, I’m going to talk about publishing your book. Many authors write their first novel but don’t have much knowledge about the publishing process. It takes a long time to write a book, and it can take just as long if not longer than writing it to see it published. The elements remain the same whether you decide to publish your manuscript or send it out to traditional publishers. Below, I’ll give you an overview of what happens for your manuscript to turn into a book and hopefully a best-seller.  

Hybrid and Traditional Agreements

If you want to self-publish your book, please go to the next step.

Whether a publisher is traditional or hybrid, it’s up to them whether they’ll decide to take on a new author. Publishers can receive over 1,000 manuscripts a week. They sit in a slush pile for someone to read. If it doesn’t hook them within the first five minutes, it’s rejected.

For a publisher to accept your novel, there are several other things for them to consider:

  • Is the genre marketable?
  • Is the subject matter trending?
  • Is the manuscript of high quality?

If your manuscript meets these requirements, then you will be offered an agreement.

Agreement

The agreement will outline the terms of the publication of your book. 

A hybrid agreement usually requires you to pay for publishing services. If it is a picture book and the publisher doesn’t have a team of illustrators, they may ask you to pay to have the illustrations done elsewhere. 

A traditional publisher agrees to take on the financial risk of publication. 

However, in both instances, the publisher and you will agree to a certain percentage of royalties paid for future sales. 

The Editing Process

It doesn’t matter which of the above options you choose. Your manuscript will need editing.

As an author, you will undertake the first round of edits. If you’re like me, you’ve probably done several drafts of your manuscript and edited it many times before you’ve sent it out. 

The editor will break editing down into three steps:

  1. Copy Editing: looks at syntax, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It also involves looking at whether words need to be hyphenated. Do numbers need to be in numerals or spelled out? Are capital letters and fonts used correctly? Is there a uniform style? Are there errors in language use? All these things are looked at and amended if necessary.
  2. Line Editing: looks for overuse of long, redundant words or sentences that can be tightened. In this part of the editing process, the editor will fix bad transitioning, tonal shifts, unclear scenes, narratives, and unnatural phrasing. 
  3. Proofreading: when the above stages are completed, an editor will read through the final copy of the manuscript. He will look at grammar, inconsistent spelling, hyphens, page breaks, and awkward words.

Once the editor is happy with the quality of the manuscript, the publisher will set a release date.

Release date

A release date is usually six to eighteen months. The reason for this is to allow for the cover design, marketing, and any potential delays. The publisher will also set an on-sale date. That is when the book will become available for retailers and pre-order. The on-sale date can be a few weeks to a few months before the release date. For example, my cover reveal was on 14 May 2021. My book is available for pre-order now, and the release date is 24 August 2021. 

Cover Design

Have you ever heard the saying don’t judge a book by its cover? The first thing a consumer will see is your book cover. To me, the book cover is everything because most people will judge a book by its cover. 

The designer will ask the publisher to complete a design brief that includes the synopsis, target audience, and a list of comparable titles. 

The design process could take a month or so. It depends on the number of revisions the designer must make. The publisher may ask for your input about what picture should be on the cover. The publisher at 5310 Publishing asked me. The picture I suggested is what his design team did and, I think they did a fabulous job because it complements the story.

Page Design

The designer will then work on the interior page design and layout. Here a font is chosen and a copyright page. Next, paragraphs and chapters are formatted. He will also look at where to place any illustrations and photographs in the manuscript and format them. This process can take several weeks to complete.

Proofing

Next, the publisher will review and proofread an electronic version of the entire book. The publisher reads the electronic version of the book first. Any errors the publisher finds will be communicated with the designer and, he will incorporate them with any final edits. 

Distribution

Large publishing houses will contract a printing firm first who will then coordinate with a warehouse distributor. For smaller publishing houses and self-published authors, distribution and printing get done through Print-on-Demand or Digital-first publishing. In either case, the digital files of the whole book get emailed to the distributor/printer. He will prepare the files for printing and distribution to numerous online retailers. 

Galley

A galley is what is known as a proof copy of your book. Once the electronic files get sent to the distributor, a copy should be printed and examined for errors. The publisher will read and evaluate the galley to ensure that the book is ready for wide distribution.

eBook

If you’re publishing your book as an eBook, the designer will complete this process. After the print version of your book has been approved, the designer formats the eBook version, making it compatible as a PDF, ePub, MOBI, and other file formats.  

Review Copies/Advanced Reader Copies 

Reviews for your book are essential to gain sales. When the galley is ready, the publisher will send it to social media and reviewers for consideration. Most reviewers are overwhelmed with requests, so they may not have time to review your book.

Publishers will also send Advanced Reader Copies of your book to influential readers who will post an honest review on their platform of choice. Readers may include social media influencers, well-known/respected authors, and book bloggers.

Marketing 

The publisher has a marketing plan that builds awareness and enthusiasm for the release of your book. The marketing plan usually starts three or four months before the release date. The marketing plan can include:

  • Advertising
  • Giveaways
  • Author events/interviews
  • Email/direct mail marketing
  • Pre-ordering, and
  • Content creation via blogging.

All the above creates as much anticipation as possible for the release of your book.

Book Launch

Congratulations, your manuscript is now a book. The publisher has ensured it’s available for purchase through many distribution channels. It’s time to celebrate! If your marketing was successful, you should have interviews and events lined up. If not, you need to continue to reach out and let people know that your book is out there and what a good read it is. If you work hard enough, it could just become a best-seller.

Until next time, I hope this blog is helpful.