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By Sandra Beckwith

When one of indie kid lit author Cat Michaels’ books wins an award, she doesn’t just pose for a grip and grin at the awards banquet. Michaels, who has won four book awards in the past two years, makes sure her audience hears the good news, too.

For example, when her Sweet T and the Turtle Team was named the best environment category book for children by the Literary Classics Book Awards, Michaels documented her week at the organization’s conference and awards festivities through photos. The marketing-savvy writer turned the images into social media shares, a blog post, and even a video.

Winning is good, but it’s not enough

Michaels knows that it’s on her to make sure the book-buying world knows that her books are award-winners. It’s worth the time it takes, too, because an award lends a certain amount of prestige and cache to your book.

How can you follow Michaels’ lead and make the most of the awards your book will receive? Here are 13 ideas:

1. Include it in your author bio

You are now “an award-winning author.” Say so in:

2. Update your book description

Few things give book buyers confidence like the phrase “award-winning.” Work this into your book’s description everywhere – including:

  • your website
  • etail sales pages
  • Goodreads
3. Update your cover

For e-books and print on demand, incorporate the award seal into your cover design immediately.

If you have printed books in inventory and the organizer sells award stickers, buy a roll.

4. Ask what the contest organizer is doing to promote winners

There’s no point in duplicating efforts. Many will distribute an announcement press release and feature a list of winners on the competition website, but what else happens – anything?

Do they send a personalized press release to your local newspaper? If they do, you don’t have to. If they don’t, see number 5 below.

5. Send a press release

Using the organizer’s press release as a starting point, send your own press release to:

  • local media outlets
  • alumni publications
  • industry trade magazines (if that’s appropriate)

Change the organizer’s headline and first paragraph to focus on your connection to the media outlet (“Local author wins national book award,” “LSU alum wins national book award,” “Industry expert wins national book award”).

6. Announce it on your website

This good news belongs on your home page and the page that’s dedicated to book information.

7. Incorporate it into marketing materials

Michaels added award information to the bookmarks and tent cards she created for book signings.

8. Include it in your social media profile

Michaels’ Twitter and Facebook page headers, for example, showcase all four of her awards.

9. Share the news on social media

Your connections will be happy for you. Give them a chance to applaud your accomplishment.

10. Use email to let people know

People who know you will want to share your excitement. Michaels shared the news with her email newsletter subscribers.

In addition to announcing your award and its significance, make sure you explain briefly what the book is about and include a link to a purchase page.

11. Use it to get reviews

When sending out advance review copies, mention any awards in your cover note.

People are more likely to want to read and review your newest work when they know that previous books were recognized for their quality.

12. Ask the judges for comments

Then use them in your marketing materials.

Even a short phrase indicating why your book is a winner will go a long way on your:

  • book cover
  • website
  • online sales pages
  • press materials
13. Celebrate!

Treat your most ardent supporters to a party or celebration. Let those who believe in you share your joy.

Watch out for the scammers

Here’s a word or two of caution about awards, though: Because many authors would like to claim “award-winner” status, you have to be careful that you don’t let scammers take advantage of you.

Some aggressively promoted competitions are nothing more than income generators for organizers. Before entering a contest and paying a fee, check the list of contests and competitions reviewed and rated by the Alliance of Independence Authors. Are there any on that list that you could win?

What did you do to get the most from a book award? Please share your tips here!
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post 13 Ways to Use a Book Award for Marketing appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the Great White North as I write this. Temperatures “feel like” 107.6 Fahrenheit with the humidex factored in. When it’s this hot and humid all you want to do is find a cool spot to hang out with a good book because anything else takes too much effort, right?

In the absence of a good book, maybe read this week’s selection of articles instead—and don’t forget the lemonade.

There’s still time to submit your ebook cover to our e-Book Cover Design Awards contest for July. All the information you need can be found here.

Check back next Sunday for our Carnival of the Indies blog carnival.

Nate Hoffelder on Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
How to Waste Money When Self-Publishing a Book
“Self-publishing a book can get quite expensive. A good cover designer can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the editorial costs can set you back even more.”

Nathan Bransford on Nathan Bransford
Audible adds a controversial new feature (This week in books)
“There was some news that roiled the publishing world this week, as Audible announced a feature called Audible Captions, which would display text while an audiobook is playing.”

Chris Syme on Smart Marketing for Authors
Episode 135 – Welcome to the Marketing Rebellion [New]
“In this short ten-minute episode Chris talks about the new book by marketing wise guy Mark Schaeffer titled, Marketing Rebellion – the most human company wins. Schaeffer talks about the importance of adjusting to the new culture of buying: connecting with real humans.”

Kristen Lamb on Kristen Lamb – Author, Speaker, Professional Troublemaker
Gatekeepers & Good Books: Trophy Fishing in a Literary Tsunami
“Gatekeepers have always served a crucial function, albeit a function we (readers) might not have paid much attention to until recently.”

Dawn Field on BookBaby Blog
Is your manuscript ready for editing?
“What you need from an editor depends on where you stand in the story development queue. Are you still developing your plot, characters, or setting? Are you on draft number 20? Just combing out the last typos?”
Photo: pixabay.com

The post This Week in the Blogs, July 13 – 19, 2019 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Nate Hoffelder

A mailing list is a great way for you to connect with your readers, but first you have to get them to sign up.

That’s where landing pages come in.

Landing pages don’t get a lot of attention in author circles but they are a topic of intense interest in the greater business community. A high-converting landing page (one that convinces a significant number of visitors to sign up) means better sales, which is why marketers will carefully:

  • A/B test landing page designs
  • analyze pages made by their competitors
  • read 3,000-word articles that explore the tiniest details

A badly written and designed landing page will silently cost you readers, while a well-made landing page can double or triple your conversion rate. The difference between a successful page and a failing page can be as simple as changing a few words, and I can tell you how to find the right ones.

In most industries you can expect a landing page to convert around 2% to 5% of visitors, but I have had considerably better luck. The landing page for The Digital Reader’s newsletter has a conversion rate of over 30%.

Yes, one in three people who visit the landing page ended up signing up for the mailing list. What’s more, that conversion rate is rising all the time because every so often I go back and tweak the language to make the page more effective. (The very first version of the page had a conversion rate of around 10%.)

And that brings me to the first secret I know about landing pages.

1. Try, Try, Try Again

Landing pages aren’t like books; you don’t have to get a landing page right the first time you publish it. Instead, you can improve your landing page’s effectiveness bit by bit, improving the conversion rate by tweaking:

  • the language
  • the layout
  • other details

In fact, I tweaked my landing page in the middle of working on this post. (Analyzing my landing page so I could explain my decisions made me realize how I could do better, and there’s no time like the present.)

I changed the text on my landing page because I realized that the very first thing on the old landing page was a controversial claim. I said that authors no longer need publishers, and while I believe that is true, not everyone would agree. Indie authors would be nodding their heads, but traditionally published authors and those who work in publishing would feel differently. They might even be offended.

As a rule, you should seriously consider avoiding political, social, and other controversial statements on your landing page. They’ll turn off your potential subscribers, and this will harm your conversion rate.

2. Shorter is Better

Here’s the current text for my landing page.

Everyone knows that it can be difficult to keep up with the latest tech while also writing and marketing your books.

Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll share useful tech tips that will help you grow your mailing list, sell more books, and bond with readers.

Plus, I’ll give you a name generator you can use to invent colorful names for just about anything!

The first thing you probably noticed is that it’s very short–65 words. You might think that a longer text would give me more room to make a better argument, and that’s certainly what I thought earlier this year.

I made a longer landing page with prettier formatting, links to past newsletters, and a more detailed pitch. When I checked on the page a few weeks ago, I found it had a conversion rate close to zero. (I could not delete that page fast enough.)

I have found that short and sweet works, and I can explain why.

The first thing I did in the text was tell my audience something they knew to be true. This built a rapport with the audience, which is great because once they agree with you on something, it will be easier to convince them they should sign up.

At the same time, I framed that truth as a problem, and then pitched my newsletter as a solution. This made it clear to my audience how they will benefit from my newsletter. Telling them how I will help them achieve their goals made it more likely they will sign up.

I also took care to use magic words like “everyone knows” or “most people” or “you know how”. When you frame your statements this way, it will sound like you are repeating a common-sense truism that everyone knows.

And finally, I offered new subscribers a freebie as a reward for signing up. I offer a workbook on brainstorming names on the landing page. I have found that name generator to be the most effective freebie I could offer, and yes, the freebie does have an impact on the conversion rate.

3. Freebies Matter

Over the past few years I have made several different guides to give away to new subscribers. I had a checklist on speeding up a WP site, another on site security, and I’ve put together a few infographics. I also turned one of my blog posts into a workbook on writing social media bios.

I do not offer the guides or the infographics because I’ve found that my preferred audience, authors, did not find them appealing at all. Whenever I offered either guide as a freebie on my landing page, my conversion rate dropped to around 5%.

Also, for the past few weeks I have offered that social media bio workbook as a freebie, but I don’t think it is as effective as I would like. My conversion rate for the last few weeks was 22%, and I know I can do better.

Final Thoughts

These tricks are just a few of the reasons why people are three times more likely to sign up for my mailing list as they are for other mailing lists.

If you are not satisfied with your conversion rate, you should see how many of these tricks you can apply in your landing page; with a little hard work you might be able to raise your conversion rate as high as mine.

That said, I don’t claim to know everything about landing pages, and I would love to hear about the tricks you have learned.

What makes your landing page effective?

What doesn’t work for you?
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post 3 Secrets to an Effective Landing Page appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

You’ve heard it over and over and over again. Having a popular author blog can be a key ingredient of a successful author platform. A successful author platform can be key to being a successful author—translation: selling lots of books!

Dynamic Versus Static Content

A blog consists of blog posts and blog pages.

  • Blog posts are dynamic content which means they change, the content is fresh, and it keeps readers coming back to the blog.
  • Blog pages are static content. Pages are usually full of information that readers can and do reference, such as About and Contact pages, but their content doesn’t typically, or at least frequently, change.

Today I’d like to focus on what makes a popular blog post because a successful blog needs traffic, a large and loyal readership, and popular blog posts will help you find those readers and keep them coming back.

There are many popular blogs out there that I could use as examples but I believe in using what you know best and since I’ve been working as editor of The Book Designer blog for nearly 9 years, I’m going to use The Book Designer as an example. Chances are good, too, that if you’re here reading this blog post, you know this blog, too, so the examples I’m about to give you will resonate.

Elements of a Popular Blog Post

I don’t have all the answers about what makes a blog post popular. Just as some books inexplicitly become bestsellers while other books on similar topics, written with equal skill, marketed with equal effort, do not, blog posts can sometimes become hugely popular, even viral, without obvious explanation.

I remember years ago when I had a person blog on WordPress.com where I wrote about a variety of unconnected topics, I wrote a blog post about killing chickens and how I’d opted out of visiting my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm on a particular day because they were going to be killing their chickens and how that went against my vegetarian sensitivities and wasn’t something I wanted to witness. That blog post was extremely popular compared to my other posts and to this day, I don’t really know why.

But, aside from random and unexplained successes, there are some things that we know will help to put a blog post on the path to success.

1. Frequency of posts

If you want readers to keep coming back, blog often and on a regular schedule so your readers want to come back and know when to do so.

Here at The Book Designer, almost without fail, we have been blogging on:

for years, occasionally varying from the normal offerings by providing guest posts or during the holiday season.

2. Stay on topic

Readers who come to The Book Designer expect to read about topics in our content niche that are related to self-publishing after the first draft is written such as:

It is important that we provide that content consistently. We get many requests to publish guest posts on completely unrelated topics like:

  • fashion design
  • real estate in Toronto
  • companies offering roofing services

I kid you not! We have been approached by companies to publish posts on these subjects. Those who approach us with these requests see a high traffic blog and their priority is to get their information in front of as many eyes as possible. They don’t care if you come back to the blog after reading their post. We do.

Think of it this way: If you go to McDonalds for a hamburger, you know exactly what you’ll be getting. Same thing if you come to The Book Designer. We don’t serve hamburgers of course, but I think you take my point? Don’t keep people guessing what’s on your menu!

3. Content of Value and Takeaways

If you want busy readers to spend their precious time visiting your blog, make it worthwhile. Don’t peddle fluff. Aim to provide content with substance so that when your readers are done reading your posts, they’ll leave a little wiser, and a bit more informed. Give them something that they can perhaps apply to their own situations.

If the goal of your blog is to entertain your readers versus to inform and/or teach them, then run with that and do it well.

Give them a reason to remember your blog posts. Make them think or make them smile but make them remember your article–and want to come back!

4. Keywords and SEO

Employing search engine optimization techniques can help you achieve higher search engine rankings so that readers can find your blog posts.

Think of it this way. There are undoubtedly many excellent books available for sale on Amazon which have not been marketed so aren’t getting readers because no one knows they’re there. You need search engines to know about your blog posts so that readers can find them.

These articles on SEO may help you understand how to do that:

Keywords are focused words or terms that others would use in a search engine to find content. If you use those specific and focused words or phrases in your content—titles and within your posts, readers can more easily find your posts through search engines.

5. Promote and Reach Out

Simply put:

  • Advertise your blogs posts on social media and through newsletter, etc. so that people will know about them.
  • Take an interest in other similar blogs and leave comments to make connections so that those people will know about you and will discover your blog.

It is also important to acknowledge and interact with individuals who comment on your blog posts. Don’t ignore your audience. Encourage their input and strive to continue the conversation.

Examples of Popular Posts

Here’s a list of the 10 most popular blog posts on The Book Designer in the last year. Take a look and consider whether they:

  • Stay on topic
  • Offer content of value and takeaways
  • Use keywords and SEO

Please note that page views, comments and shares were based on the figures available at the time I wrote this article. I expect that these numbers will increase over time.

  1. 1. What’s Going on with CreateSpace and KDP Print? [Updated]

    25,135 Page Views / 89 Comments / 85 Shares

  2. 2. 110 Type Ornaments to Use in Your Book (Plus a Free Download)

    7,874 Page Views / 31 Comments / 33 Shares

  3. Understanding the Current “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Amazon Book Reviews

    7,190 Page Views / 37 Comments / 101 Shares

  4. Words Gone Wild: KDP Keywords Revisited

    6,306 Page Views / 14 Comments / 52 Shares

  5. “I Hate That!” Book Design Pet Peeves

    5,125 Page Views / 44 Comments / 51 Shares

  6. Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – July 2018

    4,845 Page Views / 21 Comments / 137 Shares

  7. e-Book Cover Design Awards, August 2018

    4,464 Page Views / 20 Comments / 34 Shares

  8. As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies

    4,068 Page Views / 25 Comments / 66 Shares

  9. 14 Content Ideas for Author Newsletters

    4,039 Page Views / 12 Comments / 29 Shares

  10. e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2018

    3,829 Page Views / 20 Comments / 999 Shares

Additional Resource Final Thoughts

Even if you follow every tip and example I’ve included in this article, be patient. Blogging success and high traffic rates don’t happen overnight. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post 5 Tips for Popular Posts on Your Author Blog appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

How’s your weekend going? Hope you can find time to read this week’s selection of articles from some of the best self-publishing and writing blogs on the web. And, don’t forget that submission’s for this month’s Carnival of the Indies blog carnival need to be received by July 15th.

Victoria Strauss on Writer Beware
From Writer Beware’s Files: The Seven Most Prolific Vanity Publishers (Plus Two Honorable Mentions)
“Vanity publishers, unfortunately, are not in short supply. Writer Beware’s files include hundreds of them, large and small. But there’s a select few about which we hear over and over, via writers’ questions and complaints. These companies reel in not dozens, not scores, but hundreds and even thousands of writers, doing business on an industrial scale.”

Nathan Bransford on Nathan Bransford
How to write good jacket copy
“One of the most important tasks you’ll tackle when you’re self-publishing is coming up with a good description that will make someone want to buy your book. Here’s how to write good jacket copy.”

Steven Spatz on Bookbaby Blog
How Three Self-Published Authors Found Mainstream Success
“Although it seems like a pipe dream to many self-published authors, over the last few decades, a variety of independent writers have gone on to experience mainstream success on a big scale.”

Nate Hoffelder on The Digital Reader
Ten Free Online Image, Graphic, and Photo Manipulation Tools
“Image editing used to be something that required a dark room, expensive chemicals, and scissors. Later all that was replaced by expensive apps, but it is now 2019 and a lot of image editing can be done with free online tools (or free offline tools like GIMP).”

Dan Holloway on Self-Publishing Advice Center
Self-publishing News: Who Owns Your Books?
“People who bought ebooks through Microsoft’s online library (apparently there were some!) lost access to them this week.”
Photo: pixabay.com

The post This Week in the Blogs, July 6 – 12, 2019 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Amy Collins

So many authors launch their first book (or second) before building a list of readers and fans and THEN start working on attracting readers. They labor under the false idea that they need a book FIRST and then they can start building their readership. I mean, how ELSE do you build a base of fans and readers until you have a book?

Well, Nicole Evelina, the author of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did just that. While she was working on her first book she decided to start drawing readers into her online “web.” This self-published author is now so popular with readers that when she has a new book coming out, thousands of rabid fans crash into each other buying her newest release.

So I asked Nicole to share with me:

  • What were some of the early steps that she took and found successful to help draw and attract readers?
  • How did she get started BEFORE she had a book?
What She Did

The first thing she said was that she blogged frequently long before the first book was out.

She is a writer of historical fiction so, like many novelists, had a lot of research from which to draw for her blog. According to Evelina, only about 1% of the research that she does for any type of book actually ends up in the book because she doesn’t want to bore her readers with all the details and stuff that makes up the backstory and fills the characters personality and experiences.

So for her, a blog was a great outlet for that. And to this day, her most trafficked pages on her website are some of those early posts where she wrote about Celtic life. She wrote blogs about the 12 types of Celtic marriage and another about the weaponry that that the Celts would have used. Another blog covered the way the Celts would cook…

That helped attract people to her that who were interested in historical elements and readers. She found that those interested in what they used to call dark ages, now call early medieval history, were often also interested in Arthurian legend because that’s the time period where it’s set.

She also actively encouraged those readers and blog subscribers to join her online in social media. By doing that on twitter and Facebook, she was able to reach out to friends and connections of her current online buddies. Her reach grew a little each day.

What She Does Now


Just this week, I saw a post by Nicole where she said (in essence) “Hey folks, who’s got a blog, who’s got a newsletter, who can talk about my new book?” It was brilliant, she just ASKED! I watched a TON of people respond by saying YES.

Her book is now in the top 10 of historical fiction because these fans all jumped in and shared the posts, ads and recommendations she asked them to.

Because she has worked so hard to build a group of fans, she had a great response.

What We Should Do Now

We, too, can develop a team of readers who are willing to help us build our careers. This works for big-name authors and self-published authors alike…the key is ATTRACTION. There is no need to pound people over the head with a newsletter or offers to join a private fan group. It needs to be voluntary from readers. These readers/fans need to care about us and love us enough to want to support us.

Don’t be afraid of working this attraction angle…. I know every author out there has other authors that they love. If your favorite author asked you to read an early copy of their next book…. would you be willing to read it and post a review on, on a publication day or be willing to give it away on your blog, or share it on social media? Of course you would! So would your future fans. But they need to be ASKED.

We need to build our own team of fans and readers… even BEFORE our books are out. The reason this works for Nicole is because she is so genuine and real online. She spends 80% or more of her time online sharing truly personal items or asking folks about THEM. She genuinely wants to get to know people. I see her wishing folks happy birthday or offering condolences when somebody’s pet passes away… that’s a human connection, and it’s the stuff that builds fans. What does not work is pushing your book over and over.

You have heard me say this million times over: “Authors are not your competition. They’re your community.”

Join and build your community. If you do not enjoy social media, you have to figure out a way to build your community without it or learn to love it. And if you DO enjoy social media, you will enjoy a great deal of success. This is what it’s all about. Not hiding behind a typewriter or word processor. It’s about getting out there and being part of your community.

There you have it…. You CAN build your readership and fan base before you have a book. Honest. (And, you should!)
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – July 2019 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander - 2w ago

By Andrea Reider

Although this blog is called The Book Designer, many of the articles we publish here deal with topics other than book design such as self-publishing, marketing and social media, etc. That is why it gives me great pleasure to welcome Andrea Reider. Today, Andrea explains some of the basics of book design. I think you’ll enjoy learning about the conventions behind these design elements that we tend to take for granted.

I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A in English around the time that Macintosh computers were reinventing graphic design and “desktop publishing.” My first job out of college was managing a typesetting shop in Ann Arbor that was transitioning from the older generation of expensive phototypesetting computers (and pasting galleys by hand) to the Macintosh platform.

I enjoyed everything about working with type and layout have been at it ever since, working my way from Microsoft Word 1.0 to the latest version of Adobe InDesign.

Publishing has changed in so many ways during my time as a book designer, but one thing remains the same: the basics of good book design and layout. The following are some of the rules and guidelines that I use to design and lay out books.

Part Opener Pages

Part opener pages usually begin on a right-hand page and feature a part number and part title. The title may be followed by a few lines of text, several pages of text, or no text at all.

Part Number

The part number can be set in several ways:

  • Part 1
  • Part I
  • Part One

Sometimes the word “Part” is omitted entirely.

One common way to distinguish parts openers from chapter openers is to use roman numerals for part numbers and Arabic numerals for chapter numbers: as in Part II, Chapter 5. They may also capitalize “PART” and use cap and lowercase for “Chapter.”

Generally the part number should be in somewhere between 12-point and 24-point type, though occasionally it can be much larger if it works for the design.

Part Title

The part number is usually followed by a part title. The part title is typically, but not always, larger than the part number; between 20- and 36-point type, and set in any combination of bold, roman, or italic type.

Using all capital letters or distinctive fonts are other ways to distinguish the part titles from other elements.

Because part opener pages often don’t have any body text, they offer a great opportunity to be creative with the design. Designers often use:

  • photographs
  • illustrations
  • ornamental type
  • even something as simple as a well-placed gray box to highlight the text

If the part opener ends on a right-hand page, it’s usually followed by a blank left-hand page, with the next chapter beginning on the next right-hand page.

If the part openers are designed as a two-page spread beginning on a left-hand page, it’s still customary to add the next blank left-hand page and begin the next chapter on a right-hand page.

Part opener pages generally have a drop folio (page number at the bottom of the page) if there is text on the opener page, and a blind folio (no page number) if there’s just the title without any other text.

Chapter Opener Pages

Chapter openers usually begin on a right-hand page for a number of reasons having to do with book production and ease of reading. It’s easier for readers to find chapter openers if they all begin consistently on right-hand pages, and it’s easier for authors to add or delete a page during book production without changing the left-to-right orientation of the entire book.

Books with more than twenty chapters can be an exception to this rule, when beginning all chapters on right-hand pages would add too many blank left-hand pages to the book and add substantially to the page count.

Books with very short chapters are also an exception to the rule, as starting all chapters on right-hand pages might distract readers more than it helps to indicate a new chapter. Using all right-hand chapter openers will add to the page count if you want to add pages to the book.

Chapter Number

The design for the chapter number can be very simple or something more elaborate. The word “chapter” is often included in the design of this element, but not always.

The letters of the word “chapter” can be made into a graphic element and can be set in any number of eye-catching and attractive manners.

Chapter Title

The typeface for the chapter title is often set in a similar manner to the part title, but somewhat smaller.

The type size for the chapter title can range from 18 to 30 points in size, and include the use of:

  • bolding
  • italics
  • capitalization
  • color
  • other elements
Drop Folio

Page numbers are called “folios” in book production.

Chapter openers usually include a “drop folio,” with the page number appearing at the page. The drop folio is either centered or flush to the outside (left or right) margins of the page.

Drop Cap

A 2- or 3-line drop cap is often applied to the first letter of the first paragraph of an opener page.

The first letter of the paragraph is “dropped down” and enlarged to the depth of 2 to 3 lines of text. You can also style the first word or two of the paragraph with capitalization or a complementary font to start off the main text in an attractive and eye-catching manner.

Body Text

The type face for the main body text typically ranges from a minimum of 9–10 points to a maximum of 12–13 points, unless there’s a good reason to go smaller or larger.

There are many typefaces to choose from, but books are usually set with fonts that are familiar and easy to read.


The leading, or space between lines of text, should be set at least 2 points greater than the type size.

Using 11 point type with 14 points of leading is a good starting point to ensure readability.


The main body text is usually set in black even for books that are printing in full color.

Color can be used for titles, subheads, folios, bullet points, and other design and text elements.

Most books are printed in black and white due to the high cost of color printing, but e-books can be produced in full color.

Continuing Text Pages

Continuing text pages are usually set with running header or footer text, which almost always includes:

  • the page number and any combination of:
    • the book title
    • author name
    • part title
    • chapter title

Some books include the last subhead in the text for the headers or footers as an additional guide for readers.

Page Number

Part and chapter openers almost never include the running header or footer text, but often include a page number as a drop folio centered at the bottom of the page.

All other text pages should include the running header or footer, except for pages that are set with a horizontal alignment (a 90° rotation, also known as “landscape” and “broadside”).

Most publishers remove the running header or footer text from rotated pages—to avoid having the vertical running header or footer conflict with the horizontal text—although some books use the page number without the running header or footer text.


The first line of text after the chapter title is often a subhead if it isn’t a drop cap.

Non-fiction books typically have anywhere from two to four levels of subheads, but some have more.

The drop cap is typically not used when a chapter begins with a subhead.

The text following a subhead is usually set flush left (without the paragraph indent), but there are many exceptions to this rule.

Subheads are typically set a little larger than the main text. Readers should be able to immediately identify the hierarchy of subhead levels through the use of:

  • type size and face
  • indentation
  • color
  • other design elements

There are three main types of lists:

  • bulleted lists
  • numbered lists
  • unnumbered lists

Lists should be indented in some way and include a line space above and below as a separation from the main text.

Bullet Points

Bulleted lists can be:

  • round
  • square
  • any other shape, size, or color that works with the design

Extracts (quotations) are usually:

  • set in the main text typeface
  • a half or one point smaller
  • indented on both the right and left sides
  • separated from the main text with a line space above and below

The indents should match the main text indentation, which is typically just under a quarter inch, or 1p6 in printer’s measurements.

Final Thoughts

The book design templates at Book Design Templates are a wonderful resource to see the basics of great book design in practice. Authors and publishers can choose from a wide range of styles to find the one that is perfect for their book. Every book requires (and deserves) a certain degree of customization. I enjoy working with authors to find the very best way to present books to a wide or specific audience.

Andrea Reider has worked as a freelance book designer and typesetter for over 25 years. Her work experience with Addison Wesley, McGraw-Hill, and John Wiley & Sons taught her much about the finer points of book design and layout. Today she works with a wide range of publishers and self-publishing authors to produce books for print and e-books for print-on-demand publishers like Kindle Direct and IngramSpark, as well as traditional off-set printers. She can be contacted through Book Design Templates or Andrea Reider Books.
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post The Basics of Book Design appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Shelley Sturgeon

Some great articles for you again this week.

But first, some reminders:

  • Submissions for July’s issue of Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies blog carnival will be accepted until July 15th. All the information you need to know can be found here. Our Carnival of the Indies post will run on the last Sunday of the month.
  • Our July e-Book Cover Design Awards contest submissions will be accepted until July 31st and all submissions meeting our submission requirements will be included in a post at the end of August. June’s submissions will be included in our post published on Monday, July 26th. Submission information can be found here.

If you have any questions about the Carnival of the Indies, the e-Book Cover Design Awards, or self-publishing, by clicking on the Contact page and filling in that form, or leaving a comment below. We always like to hear from you.

Enjoy this week’s selection of articles!

Jane Friedman on Jane Friedman
Public Libraries: How Authors Can Increase Both Discoverability and Earnings
“At BookExpo in May, I attended a panel focused on early findings from the Panorama Project, a research initiative sponsored by OverDrive, that hopes to demonstrate quantifiably how libraries affect book discoverability and sales.”

Stephanie Chandler on Nonfiction Authors Association
10 Ways to Boost Sales on Your Website
“If you are selling books and other products and services through your website, you’ve probably already learned that sales can ebb and flow. Here are some tactics to reduce the ebb and keep your sales flowing!”

Diana Hurwitz on The Blood Red Pencil
Give Your Book a Listen
“Is the story on the page the same as the story in your head? When you finish revision and final proofreading rounds, it is a good idea to give your finished manuscript a listen.”

David Gaughran on David Gaughran
Moving from Mailchimp to MailerLite: A Guide
“Mailchimp made some major changes recently which were received very negatively – causing many users to flee into the arms of alternatives like MailerLite.”

Gwen Hernandez on Writer Unboxed
Revising Your Manuscript in Scrivener
“I frequently get asked how to use Scrivener for revisions. Obviously, the specifics will vary depending on your approach to edits, but I’ll cover my basic system and give you some ideas which features you might find helpful.”
Photo: pixabay.com

The post This Week in the Blogs, June 29 – July 5, 2019 appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Judith Briles

From me to you … it’s time for an essential … ummm, sometimes uncomfortable moment—maybe one that never thought about. But should have. It’s about your website.

Do you have protection?

  • What happens if your webmaster decides to go tiptoeing through the tulips?
  • Or quits on you?
  • Or is in an accident?
  • Or you have decided to no longer work with him or her?
  • What happens?

Do you have protection for your website? Odds are, you don’t.

It’s an “oh-oh” time. And yes, it deals with your website.

  • Are you really protected?
  • Do you know where all the details are backed up?
  • Do you have all your logins, passwords, codes and anything else that you need if you must access it immediately?
  • If you need help, do you know where to go? Who to ask?
  • If you have a webmaster, what if he or she gets hit by a bus? Decides to go smell the roses. Wants to pursue other things. Or yikes, dies?

It’s a come to Website Chat Time.

Start with creating your own SOS: Website Due Diligence Plan … to protect you and your website. I had the “come to webmaster meeting” not long ago.

13 Essential Steps for Website Due Diligence

Here are the essential steps that I came up with. Must have answers to in a short—very short period-of-time from whoever has the website strings that you rely on.

Start with:

1. Ownership and copyright
  • Who owns your website?
  • Is the copyright in YOUR name?

That means NOT in your webmaster’s, a lawyer’s or someone else that helped you out as your started down your website journey.

2. Website Host
  • Do you know the name of the website host or server, its website and HELP phone numbers?
  • Do you have the logins to the accounts?
  • Does the host know you exist?
3. Webmaster
  • Who is your webmaster?
  • What is his or her email and phone number?
  • Do you have the logins to the accounts—all of them, meaning usernames and passwords?
  • Do you know:
    • what format was used?
    • if any special templates were used or created?
    • if images were purchased or apps?
  • Do you know what was purchased for the creation of your website that you paid for?

You may choose to leave your webmaster and what is yours, you want, and you want immediate access to it. Think of it as a divorce … it’s over.

4. Login credentials
  • Who has the login credentials to your website? Credentials start with YOU—you should be the primary.
  • You may have a virtual assistant or two who has access … but who? What is his or her phone number and email?

And, if you terminate anyone who has access or leaves your employment or confidence—CHANGE passwords immediately—better yet, do it before you terminate them.

5. Domain registration
  • Where is your website domain registered?

Make sure you check your name anywhere on the ICANN/WhoIs database registration for your domain. You need all contact information.

6. Website Theme

Your website has a theme.

  • Who owns it?
  • Was it a fee or free theme?
  • Do you have proof of allowability?
  • What is the renewal date and login information?
7. License Keys
  • Do you have any “License Keys” for plug-ins or themes?
  • Who is the provider?
  • Where are they kept?
  • What are the renewal dates?
  • What are the fees, if any?
8. SSL Certificate
  • Do you have an SSL certificate?

You should, meaning that your website is “secure” if you are selling anything off it. An image representing that you have it should be on the upper section of your website.

  • Who issued it?
  • Was there a cost?
  • Request contact info.
9. Shopping Cart
  • If you have a Shopping Cart (including PayPal) … which one is used?
  • What are the logins?
  • Are you getting regular reports … or even checking them online?
10. Backups
  • What about backup—is it being done?

Do yourself a HUGE favor and create a minimum of a monthly backup on both physical and online website locations that you can access in case of an emergency.

  • Who does the backup?
  • What is their contact information?
11. Subscribers

You have subscribers … excellent.

  • What service collects the emails?
  • Do you have contact information for help?
  • Do you know how to access their names and contract info?
  • Do you have a backup of names, addresses and how they opted in?
12. Start the conversation

If you have staff, start gathering ALL the above:

  • sites
  • apps
  • usernames
  • passwords

If there are any changes, get the updates done. Get them posted in a place that YOU know where it is and a TRUSTED backup.

13. TODAY … have a heart-to-heart with your webmaster

This is your publishing and authoring lifeline. It’s a must to have all the above information in a file on your computer—which should be backed up at least daily. And, it’s a must to have it printed out in a notebook or manual that your partner, spouse or trusted colleague can find instantly if something happens to you.

Stuff happens. Sometimes, not such good stuff. A key support person can become ill, have personal problems, start acting weird, quit or die. Stuff happens.

Your motto is: My business IS My Business.

You need a plan to take care of the “stuff happening” side of what every author deals with at the most inconvenient time at some point in their publishing journey. Maybe not all of it, but definitely “some” of it.

Your SOS: Website Due Diligence Plan is the way to keep your lights on before the switch is turned off!

And, you are welcome …

The post Is Your Website Protected … Better Yet, Are YOU? appeared first on The Book Designer.

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By Joan Stewart

What’s the one question authors ask me most frequently?

“How long do I have to market my book?”

I never deviate from this answer: “Only for as long as you want to sell it.”

Every author hates hearing that. By the time most get around to asking it, usually a few weeks from their launch date, they’re exhausted and broke. By then, it’s much too late.

To save you time, trouble and disappointment, I’ve collected the most frequently asked questions I hear about book publicity. But first, let me explain why you have to market your book only for as long as you want to sell it.

Authors publish more than 600,000 books a year in the United States. That’s 50,000 books a month! As many as half, or even more, are published by indie authors.

If only a fraction of those authors promote their books with blog tours, articles, book reviews, YouTube videos, print and online publicity, and social media content—and you’re doing nothing—your book languishes. And then it dies.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Now, then, here are the other nine frequently asked questions.

2. “When do I have to start my publicity?”

Ideally, one year before you launch, especially if you don’t have a social media presence. But few authors do that.

If you’ve stalled and can’t meet that schedule, start from 6 to 8 months before launch. You can complete the following tasks you don’t want to put off until later when you’ll be slammed with last-minute marketing to-do’s:

  • Create social media accounts on a few sites where your target audience can be found, and start sharing content tied to your book and your expertise.
  • Write your author bios in various lengths: a two-liner, a short bio, medium-length and long.
  • Start answering media queries from HARO (Help a Reporter Out).
  • Plan the PR elements of your website’s book page(s).
  • Solicit blurbs and endorsements from experts.
  • Pitch story ideas about your topic to major magazines which have long lead times.
  • Research media outlets, blogs and podcasts where you want exposure.

3. “Should I use a free or paid press release distribution service?”

Until recently, I was dead set against using any of the dozens of free services because most don’t distribute anything. They simply park your release at their website where it might or might not be found by the search engines. Even worse, your press release might be next to a paid ad from one of your competitors. And if you find a typo in your release after you’ve published it, you probably won’t be able to correct it.

Two things made me change my mind:

  • A story I discovered at Sandra Beckwith’s blog about how author Judith Marshall used PR.com, a free press release service, to get a movie option for her book Husbands May Come and Go But Friends are Forever. Read about it here.
  • FitSmallBiz.com reviewed more than 90 of the free options and found only five reputable choices:

    They then reviewed those five on criteria such as the size of their distribution network, level of customization, and ease of use. I haven’t tested any of these but you might want to.

Still, I prefer one of the paid services like Dan Janal’s Guaranteed Press Releases or Mickie Kennedy’s eReleases.com. Both distribute your release through PRNewswire.

4. “I paid more than $300 to publish my release to one of the paid services and no one has reprinted it. What should I do?”

Be patient. The main reason you’re publishing your press release isn’t so media reprint it. Few if any will. You’re publishing it so it pulls traffic to your website and serves as collateral material for a well-written, customized pitch to a journalist, reviewer, influencer or someone else who can help you.

5. “What’s the difference between a press release for my book and a pitch?”

A press release is a digital file that explains the main information about your book such as the topic or storyline, the genre, price, ISBN, publishing company, why you wrote it and where people can buy it. Most authors only write one version of a press release. They link to it from a customized pitch to a specific media outlet or journalist.

Let’s say your book is a romance novel. You can send a short email pitch of three paragraphs to an editor of a woman’s magazine and pitch your quiz called “Are You Dating the Wrong Men?” Within the pitch, link to the press release at your website or elsewhere online.

If you’re pitching your local weekly newspaper because you’re doing a book signing in your town, you can send a different email pitch highlighting the fact that you’re a local author, mention the event, and link to the same press release. See my two articles The pros and cons of press releases vs. pitches and When to use a press release and when to deliver a pitch.

6. “I can’t afford those big media databases of $1,000 or more. How can I get names and contact information for journalists?”

Those expenses databases are used mostly by PR firms and publicists. You don’t need them. Besides, I don’t recommend pitching dozens or hundreds of media outlets because you won’t have the time to send a customized pitch to each one.

USNPL.com is the best free resource for contact information for thousands of media outlets in the United States. It’s short for U.S. Newspaper List. Read more about it in my article The Best Free Media Contacts Tool You Probably Aren’t Using.

Another terrific free resource is the Society of Professional Journalists Freelance Directory which lets you search by topic.

Need radio shows? Try Radio-Locator.com, which has links to more than 15,300 radio stations’ web pages and more than 11,000 station’s audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world.

If you’re pitching TV stations, start in your own community first and get experience in a smaller market before you pitch big shows or stations in major markets.

7. “Where can I find readers in my target market?”

They’re probably in your own community and all over the Internet. Here’s a partial list:

  • In MeetUp groups.
  • In special interest groups in your community. Did you write a business book? Speak to Chambers of Commerce, Rotary groups and entrepreneur roundtables.
  • In special interest groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • In discussion groups on Goodreads.
  • At blogs and websites. Start with a Google search. I searched for “where to find Christian blogs” and discovered Top 100 Christian Women Blogs, Websites & Newsletters.
  • In audiences that listen to podcasts. Search for specific shows in your favorite podcast directory.
  • In Internet discussion groups devoted to your topic. Find these through an online search Example: “Internet discussion groups for knitters”.
  • In book clubs. Here’s a free searchable directory of book clubs.

8. “I don’t know my target market. Can you help me identify it?”

If the author asking this already has published the book, I feel like crying. How can you write a book if you don’t know who you’re writing it for? I usually suggest a consulting session so I can learn more about the book and why the author wrote it.

9. “If a journalist gives me publicity, is it OK if I send a thank you gift?”

No. Many media outlets have ethics policies that prohibit journalists from accepting anything of value, including free meals. If you’re dealing with a blogger or a podcaster who has featured you, however, the same rules don’t apply. I simple thank you is all that’s necessary.

10. “I received fabulous publicity from (newspaper, magazine, TV station, radio station). What can I do to get extra mileage from it?”

You’ll find 11 ideas in my article How to Recycle, Repurpose and Promote Your Publicity.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to afford a publicist, you can learn more about how to choose one in my article How to Hire a Book Publicist Before You Sign an Agreement. Realize, however, that the publicist will concentrate on bigger media outlets. You can work alongside her pitching smaller outlets and doing other publicity tasks. Also, you’ll have to do your own publicity when her contract expires.

What questions do you have about book publicity? I’ll answer them here.
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post Top 10 FAQs About Book Publicity and Promotion appeared first on The Book Designer.

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