What makes a book…beautiful?

Happy Wednesday everyone!! I’m here today as a follow up to my book launch of When Empires Fall to impart some *hopefully* useful wisdom and tips to you in regards to book design and publishing!  I am doing this post in conjunction with the awesome graphic design team over at Blue Harvest Creative, and you can view their designer-POV post here: http://blueharvestcreative.wordpress.com/

For my writer-POV post, read on… 🙂

So it’s undeniable that practice makes perfect, right? This universal truth is, of course, applicable to self-publishing and writing, therefore I want to share with you some of the important things I learned as I went through the publishing process with my latest book. Because I have to say, I corrected A LOT of the mistakes I made with my previous books when I took on this project, and what a difference it made!

Firstly, as self-published authors it’s so important that we not forget this KEY ingredient when piecing together our books for publishing:  book design!  We spend so much time writing the damn book that a lot of us forget that it’s also important to make the book LOOK good. What do I mean by look good? Well, it may seem superficial at first, but think about it. When you pick up a book (or download one onto your ereader), would it annoy you if the formatting was bad? If the sentences ran together, if the paragraphs were clumped or oddly tabbed or spaced, if it was hard to determine when one chapter ended and one began, etc? I know that bugs me, and yes, it DOES detract from the readability of our work! And what about cover art? Trust me, if your cover is lacking in WOW factor, your book will not sell nearly as well as it should or could! As humans we are very visual, and we are drawn to beautiful or interesting or shocking things. So consider this when prepping your newly finished manuscript for publishing.

So what to do? Well, if you can, I HIGHLY suggest you hire someone, a professional, to do the interior book formatting and cover design for you. If this isn’t in the checkbook (believe me, I’ve been there!) then it’s up to you! Just know that the amount of effort you put into making your book look stunning is going to determine how successful the book is on Amazon, Smashwords or B&N. As unknown Indie authors, these simple elements to a book are SO crucial. It can seriously make the difference between a bestseller and a miserable flop.

I would like to showcase some of the things that went into building When Empires Fall in its design phases that make the book, in my obviously biased opinion ;), a beautiful book.

First off, the cover design:

It is important to think long and hard about how you want to do your book cover (if you are not simply sending it off to a cover designer to figure out for you!).  Consider your genre, your target audience, what elements in your book stand out or are important enough to be featured on the cover.  In the case of When Empires Fall, I knew I wanted to incorporate a hotel somewhere in there (since the book is about a luxury hotel in NYC and the family that runs it), so I searched stock images and found this one, shown above.  But just using the hotel image was drab and boring…the cover needed a human element.  After a lengthy search, I discovered the image of the man and woman and knew it was perfect.  Their style of dress is rather vintage, which even though the novel is modern it still echoes this concept of tradition and prestige, of wealth and prominence.  So by utilizing my Photoshop skills, I was able to combine the two images to form what you see above.  Adding in a few flair swirls and a golden tint, along with carefully chosen font type and placement, I now have a completed book cover 🙂

So a book cover is by far the most important design element, but we can’t stop there.  It’s also important to make the interior of the book look beautiful, as well!  Check out what I had done by the lovely graphic artists at Blue Harvest Creative:

Notice the design elements that were incorporated in both the eBook and print editions of the book?  They may be small details, but simply adding them gives an elegant feel to the book that not only fits with the cover design, but is impactful in its own right.  Strive for these kind of details, including altering the text at the beginning of a new paragraph, or adding a decorative spacer between sections in a paragraph.

Many of these details will require InDesign to do, as Word is limited, which is why I recommend seeking a professional to do these important tasks for you.  Be sure not to skimp out on these oh-so-important elements, as it will give your book that professional edge us Indie authors strive for! 🙂

Alright, so we discussed what makes a book visually beautiful, but what about everything else that goes along with your book? I’m referring to, of course, your brand.

Branding in regards to being an author is somewhat of an all-inclusive term. For example, anything from the font you use for your author name to the coloring you use on your website to the types of posts you feature on your blog can all be considered a part of your author “brand.” You need to be (my favorite word) CONSISTENT in all that you do in order to establish your brand!

One key component to your author brand is merchandise for marketing. This is useful for when you do giveaways, signings, or even to hand out to family and friends to let them know about your books! Some types of merchandise include bookmarks, coffee mugs, posters, business cards, postcards, and the list goes on and on!

My favorite, and probably a staple for authors everywhere, is the bookmark. 🙂 I know a lot of us use ereaders these days, but bookmarks are still fun and are a GREAT advertising tool. Plus, they are inexpensive and small enough to carry with you to hand out as you meet and greet people who are interested in your work.

But don’t forget, just as your book cover and interior have to look professional and beautiful, your marketing materials have to look beautiful too! You have to carry over the same theme you used for your book over to your merchandise so that people visually link the two products to each other. Sounds like common sense, right?

Well, I made some bookmarks through Blue Harvest Creative (yes, they do that too!). They just came in the mail a couple of days ago, and I am beyond excited about them! I’ve already given them out to all of my family and friends and can’t wait to use them for signings and as gift offers in the promotional giveaways I do!

(hehe, sorry, the bottom part of the backside is still a secret!)

So there you have it! That’s my two cents on what I learned while creating When Empires Fall! Hopefully this post has helped give you some awesome ideas for your WIP, and be sure to check out Blue Harvest Creative’s blog to enter their AWESOME raffle for FREE custom designed bookmarks!! Plus, they are offering 25% off of their book design services to all who participate in the event! Sounds awesome, right?

Thanks for visiting, and happy writing! ❤

 Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious.” Rumack: “I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.” -Airplane


4 thoughts on “What makes a book…beautiful?

  1. Pingback: “When Empires Fall” – The Art Of Crafting A Beautiful Matching Interior Print And Ebook Design | Blue Harvest Creative

  2. Thanks for sharing your POV on cover design. As an indie, I’m very concerned about my brand and a thematic design. I’ve worked with publishers before, but never really had much say in the design of my non-fiction covers except to suggest the main photo. I enjoy experimenting with stock images and Photoshop, but there is a limit to my artistic ability and vision. Me good with words, not pictures. Yet, I’m not ready to let go of the control I have with my digital editions. I’m using my cover re-dos as a learning experience.

  3. We’re so happy you love your interior and ebook. Thanks for sharing your experience working with us as well as the awesome tips!

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