Planning

Complete DIY Self-Publishing Pt. 4: The Cover

This is the third part of a series about self-publishing a short e-book as a completely DIY project. Part 1 introduced why you should consider trying to self-publish on your own at least once. Part 2 dealt with some of the tools you will need to gather at some point to accomplish the project. Part 3 addressed the importance of formatting and using the tool of a style guide.

ToolboxVisual Affect and the Cover

The cover of a book may be one of the most important elements in the digital world. A weak cover can dull sales. However, with a smaller project the cover presents some difficulty since the project may not have the budget for a top-end cover. It’s at this point you may consider spending some money on a photo which you can use to develop into a cover. Personally, I went with a photo from iStockPhoto.com but I’ve also written about more sites too (this post was about using free photos for blog posts but these sites should have terms for buying photos for re-use as a cover).

Making the Cover

Once you’ve chosen a suitable photo as the basis of your cover, you’re ready to being working it. Here’s how my process went for The Black Bag.

1. I got in my toolbox and pulled out PowerPoint and created a slide with the photo.

2. Next I create text boxes and added my Title, by-line and additional information.

3. Save the file as a PowerPoint file (.pptx file extension).

4. Next re-save it with “Save As” and choose the .jpg (IMPORTANT: when prompt whether to save all slides or just the current one, choose just the current one).

That’s it for the basic cover.

HammerThe Final Touch

At this point, I had cover ready. However, my original was the incorrect size to up load so it needed some work. This required some photo editing to change the size of the photo. To handle this job, I went to another tool to handle the photo-editing: Gimp. I’m not an expert on this task so this article better explains how to re-size a photo using Gimp. It’s not a very hard process and when you’ve completed this your cover is ready unless you need to make some changes to the cover such as text size (make sure you can see this in thumbnail view of the file on your computer).

More Cover Resources

Need a little more information about covers before tackling this part of the project?

Rayne Hall discusses best practices with covers in her book: Why Does My Book Not Sell?

Here’s an article that shows in detail the process of using PowerPoint to create a cover.

Don’t have PowerPoint and want to use only free software for making your cover? This article shows how to use Gimp exclusively.

Not interested in using Gimp? Try free online Photoshop and watch this video.

My own cover is just below.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Have you tried making your own cover? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added anew sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Getting Creative: Secondary Uses for Scrivener

Scrivener is fast becoming a mainstay of my writing. I’ve written about this software several times now but for those who are not familiar with it, Scrivener is for developing writing projects. It’s a powerful tool that allows for a great deal of flexibility for any kind of writing project. I’m even using it for this post but especially a series of blogs.

Having An IdeaA Whole New Use

I recently started a newsletter for my blog which I send out to email followers. As part of this process I use Mailchimp to send the messages. I’ll be working on the upcoming edition for next week over several days but it hit me as I started thinking about it – write the newsletter in Scrivener.

My Newsletter Plan

I’m sure other people are doing this already but I haven’t seen anyone actually write about it. Here’s how I plan to use Scrivener.

1. Create a project for the year (since I just started the newsletter the one for 2014 will be short).

2. Use the Binder to create each newsletter volume in separate sub-folders so the project will grow throughout the year.

3. Use the Research folder to create separate sub-folders for each volume where I can put ideas, links, pictures, etc. that I want to use for that volume. When I start writing the volume I’ll have all my information ready to go.

4. Transfer the text to the template in Mailchimp when ready.

Other Related Ideas

Since I plan to use Scrivener for developing my newsletter I also realized there are other similar uses too:

  • I can use it to write my book-related email campaigns.
  • Other email templates such as those used for greetings, thank-you’s and giveaways
  • Goodreads templates for those who friend me
  • It can even be used to compose social media communications that may be used repetitively. Since you can copy all kinds of files into Scrivener, I imagine I can even use it for adding pictures to post on Pinterest such as upcoming cover reveals or additional artwork to be released at a particular time.

The Bow of DestinyAs you can see, the uses for Scrivener are many and varied. Have you tried Scrivener yet? If you have, what are other ways you use it? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading. I’m off to start my newsletter project in Scrivener!

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

The Bow of Destiny cover art licensed by commission from Christopher Rawlins

Sandpaper

Complete DIY Self-Publishing Pt. 3: Sandpaper

This is the third part of a series about self-publishing a short e-book as a completely DIY project. Part 1 introduced why you should consider trying to self-publish on your own at least once. Part 2 dealt with some of the tools you will need to gather at some point to accomplish the project.

SandpaperThe Dreaded Format

It has become almost axiomatic among writers to advise other writers to hire out their formatting. I generally agree for full-length projects but I don’t think it’s worth the cost for short ones. Many authors believe that e-book formatting is just too difficult to do and would take away from their writing time and other tasks. But there are reasons to consider trying it at least once – cost and experience.

What Exactly is Formatting

Many writers don’t realize that their work is already formatted when they complete it. However, the formatting may have been set-up incorrectly. There may need to be styles applied at various points in the book. Also, there may be hidden characters that appear incorrectly in e-book format.

I’m Finished. What Next?

Let’s say that you’ve finished your e-book. Formatting is probably the next thing you need to do. The manuscript needs to be corrected for uploading to a vendor.

If the project is developed in Scrivener you can use this software to compile the manuscript into an ebook. However, it may be best to simply compile the book into a Word document for two reasons.

1. You may still need to format the e-book – more on that in a moment.

2. Uploading your book to Kindle and Smashwords requires a Word document unless you already have a clean e-book file that is appropriate to the vendor.

SandingGrab Your Sandpaper and Start Formatting

Formatting is like sanding your manuscript’s rough edges away but it is not editing – think typesetting. You will need to consult with something like the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker (as mentioned in part 2 of this series). I’ve used this guide and highly recommend it as a straightforward, simple guide – with screenshots included – to help anyone through formatting.

To hit the high notes, you need to make sure all erroneous formatting is removed from the book. It’s best when writing a book not to use manual indent but rely on the auto-indent in your word processor. The quide gets deeper by detailing such tasks as adding internal links and the use of styles. Again, follow these directions well and you can easily add the these elements as necessary.

Formatting is an important tool to completing the project. It is a powerful tool but it is not too complex to accomplish on your own, especially for a shorter project. By handling this task on your own you gain valuable insight on the process.

When addressing your longer projects you may have developed the skill and confidence to do it on your own. But even if you hire out the task of formatting you will have developed more understanding to work with your formatter as well as develop your projects more cleanly.

Bonus Tip: Once you’ve finished formatting you can view your e-book using Adobe Digital Editions to verify that it looks right. This software will allow you to make this “test-run” before you officially publish the e-book.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Have you ever tried to format any or your writing in preparation for an e-book? If you’ve formatted before, what tips can you share? If you haven’t formatted previously, what keeps you from trying? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading.

P. H. Solomon

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.