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[Last updated 01/15/2019]

The Internet is full of writing websites and blogs to help writers reach their creative goals. If you’ve been dreaming of writing your own book, but don’t know how to get there — or if you’re done writing, but feel unsure about what to do next — then it’s your lucky day, because we have put the best writing websites of 2019 in one single place for your convenience. They’re also organized alphabetically and by categories, to make them easier to find. Enjoy!

Check out some of the best writing websites of 2019 here! #amwriting
Click To Tweet

Writing craft and inspiration

1. Almost an Author

Offering great new content on a daily basis, Almost an Author covers a wide-range of writing topics. From genre-specific advice to support on your writing journey, you’ll be able to find something useful, whether you’re already a veteran or just starting out as a writer.

2. Association of Writer & Writing Programs

Having just marked their 50th anniversary, AWP’s site offers resources and opportunities for authors, teachers, and writing students at every point of their career. Here you’ll be able to find information about writing programs, career opportunities, and conferences all over the world. Keep in mind, however, that access to some of these features is restricted to members only.

3. Better Novel Project

In a creative and unique twist to literature, Christine Frazier deconstructs popular novels through drawings to figure out just what makes them so popular. By analyzing their structure, characters, and even word count, she uncovers elements that make up a bestseller and shares them on her blog one doodle at a time.

4. Creative Thinking

Author and former US Army officer Michael Michalko shares his knowledge and expertise on creative-thinking techniques. On his website, he includes exercises, techniques, and thought experiments that will get your creativity flowing.

5. Creativity Portal

This is a wonderful hub for creative resources that has been around for a whopping eighteen years. Here you’ll be able to find writing prompts, coaching, printable templates, and interviews that will help you develop and nourish your the right side of your brain.

6. Daily Writing Tips

As the name suggests, this site offers daily tips and articles on everything from writing prompts to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. It also covers all writing levels and professions, so it doesn't matter how far along  your writing career is — you’ll definitely find useful information here.

7. DIY MFA

Founder Gabriela Pereira created DIY MFA with this mission statement in mind: “Write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community.”

Instead of spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on a master’s degree, this site aims to cover everything you would normally learn at school, while giving you the freedom to decide what to read and how to allocate your time.

8. Electric Literature

While it’s not a craft-related website (so no writing advice or prompts), this nonprofit digital publisher showcases literature-related essays, criticism, and recommended readings that are just as useful and necessary to a successful writing life as any list of tips.

9. Fiction University

Not a real university (obviously), this site aims to provide useful information with plenty of writing examples to help authors build a strong writing foundation. Here you’ll find guest posts by professionals that share their own processes and techniques and also offer advice not just on what you have to do to become a writer, but on how to do it.

10. Free Writing Events

As the name suggest, this website features a thorough calendar of free writing events from all over the world. It also lists contests in a variety of genres, scholarships, and daily Twitter writing events that can help you connect with other writers and industry professionals. This site is no doubt a very valuable resource for any writer.

11. Helping Writers Become Authors

Author K.M. Weiland offers writing advice ranging from outlining and structuring to characterization and dialogue —  plus everything in between!

12. Insecure Writer's Support Group

Whether you are a writing veteran or someone just starting out, there is no doubt that writing can be intimidating. Which is why getting support, guidance, and motivation is vital. Here you can find a wealth of information on writing, publishing, marketing, workshops, and everything else you might need to help you overcome your writing insecurities.

13. Language is a Virus

Here you’ll be able to find a variety of games, exercises, and techniques that can help you work through writer’s block. It also features some excellent generators for creative inspiration.

14. Literary Hub

LitHub offers a great selection of content for all things literary. Here you can find the latest book-related news, posts on design and the writing craft, your dose of daily fiction, and reviews. It also includes a section on literature in translation — a special feature for finding books and authors from all around the world.

15. LitReactor

Here you can find writing classes, workshops, and posts on writing. There’s also a magazine that includes interviews, criticism and analysis, and seasonally appropriate reads and recommendations.

16. LitRejections

An unfortunate occupational hazard of with writing is rejection. This is where sites like LitRejections come into play, offering personal stories to help writers persevere through their rejections and keep on moving and creating.

17. Live Write Thrive

In this website by professional writer and editor C.S. Lakin, you’ll find plenty of writing advice and tips. She also does annotated critiques that can help you prep your book for publication.

18. My Story Doctor

Author David Farland combines his pre-medical microbiology background with a passion for writing by applying his scientific studies and logical approaches to writing. The results have been over fifty novel-length works and dozens of short stories. In his blog, he offers live and online workshops, writing tips, and private consultations and editing services.

19. NaNoWriMo

Besides being the information hub for the popular writing month, this site also offers inspiration and forums with information on writing tips and strategies that can help you well past November.

20. Now Novel

This is a very comprehensive website founded by author Bridget McNulty. Here you can find writing advice, courses, mentorship, and even an author dashboard where you can keep track of your writing progress and stay organized.

21. Positive Writer

Doubts can plague even the best writers, and if you are uncertain about your abilities, this is the site for you. Bryan Hutchinson created this website to help encourage and inspire those who want to write, no matter how low their confidence.

22. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid offers a great manuscript editing software. It analyzes your writing and creates reports so you can see your strengths and weaknesses. It also includes a thesaurus, grammar checks, style suggestions, and more.

23. Shayla Raquel

As a writer and editor, Shayla Raquel offers advice in most aspects of writing and publishing. She also provides consultations on manuscripts, mentorships, editing, marketing, and more.

24. well-storied

Here you can find articles, free resources, workbooks, tutorials, and discussions on writing. Kristine Kieffer has an extensive archive as well, where you can find information on just about any topic related to books and writing.

25. Write to Done

This site aims to provide the skills necessary to become a better writer: it’s more than just practicing every day, it’s about practicing the right way. Here you can also find motivation, tips, and information on both fiction and nonfiction writing.

26. The Write Practice

As suggested by the name, every post on this site focuses on putting theory into practice! There’s no better way to become a writer than by writing and creating a daily routine, and that’s exactly what this site aims to facilitate.

27. Writer’s Digest

One of the most comprehensive sites when it comes to writing — after all, the magazine has been around for more than ninety years! Here you’ll find articles by genre, writing goals and levels, lists of events and competitions, webinars, free template downloads, writing tips, tutorials, and much more.

28. Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed features articles by authors and industry professionals, focused specifically on the business and craft of writing fiction.

29. The Writing Cooperative

This is a community of people that want to help each other become better writers. Here you’ll find articles on a variety of topics that cover most — if not all — aspects of the writing craft and life. They have monthly writing challenges and there’s even a space where you can contribute with your own article.

30. Writing.com

This is an all-inclusive community for writers. It’s open to writers of all levels and provides a creative environment where they can motivate and support one another. It’s free to join and each member gets a portfolio where they can store and display their writing. It also includes writing tools, contests, and rewards.

Publishing Industry

31. Agent Query

This is a database that allows authors to search for literary agents. You can narrow down your search by genre, view the agents’ full profiles, and even see if they are currently accepting queries — all for free!

32. The Creative Penn

Besides being a bestselling author, Joanna Penn is a leading voice in self-publishing. On her site you’ll find information on writing, self-publishing, marketing, and other useful information as to how you can make a living as a writer.

33. Digital Pubbing

Here you’ll find industry news, interviews with indie authors, and resources for learning more about eBooks and the publishing industry.

34. The Independent Publishing Magazine

This website is all about publishing. If you need information on self-publishing, traditional or hybrid publishing, you’ll be able to find it here. You’ll also find the latest marketing information, technology, and industry news.

35. Publishers Weekly

If you have a question about the publishing world, you’ll most likely find the answer here. This is a weekly magazine packed full of news, reviews, announcements, and many other resources on the industry. It has been dubbed as "the Bible of the book business" and with its extensive archive, it’s easy to see why.

36. Publishing Perspectives

This is one of the leading sources of information on the publishing industry. Aimed at publishers, agents, and authors alike, it features a variety of articles that cover book fairs, distribution, education, and much more.

37. Query Shark

If you are not sure about your query letter, this blog offers the opportunity to have your query critiqued so you can get the best results for your book.

38. Writer Beware

This site lists and compiles information on scams that might affect authors. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but it provides information on any genre and applies to authors all over the world.

39. Writer’s Relief

The staff at Writer’s Relief is on a mission to help authors submit their writing to literary journals, agents, publishers, etc. Their website also has tips, writing contests, and other subscriber-only services.

40. Writers and Authors

This website aims to provide a place where writers can promote their work, learn about the industry, and network with fellow authors.

Publishing websites you should know about #ampublishing
Click To Tweet

Marketing and Design

41. Bakerview Consulting

Authors need social media presence, but for many that is easier said than done. Through this website, consultant, and book blogger Barb Drozdowich tutors authors on what they need to build a successful social platform.

42. The Book Designer

With a background on book design, advertising, and graphic design, Joel Friedlander offers his expertise through articles and consultations to help writers “build better books.” He’s also very knowledgeable about the eBook market, making him a great resource on the topic.

43. Creative Market

While this website is not aimed specifically towards writers, here you’ll find a blog full of inspiration, how-tos, trends, and tips on all things design, which can be very useful for writers thinking about their own cover designs and illustration needs.

44. David Gaughran

As an author of historical adventures, short stories, and popular writers’ books, David Gaughran is a definitive writing expert. In his blog, you can find plenty of information on marketing and self-publishing, as well as workshops aimed at helping writers get published.

45. Kikolani

Focusing specifically on marketing, Kikolani offers tips and strategies for bloggers. Here you’ll find information on brand development, social media, customer retention, and other useful tips that you can put to good use as a writer.

46. Kindlepreneur

Dave Chesson is — in his own words — a “digital marketing nut.” His blog contains all the information you need about Kindle book publishing, increasing your rankings, and various other writing tips and advice.

47. Storiad

Storiad is a platform that helps authors and publishers sell books. Here you’ll find information and guidance on software, databases, tools, and budgetary issues to help you run your own publishing campaign.

48. The Write Life

This website offers extensive information on the “writing life,” particularly on freelancing, marketing, blogging, and publishing.

49. Writers & Artists

As a part of Bloomsbury Publishing, Writers & Artists offers lots of in-depth articles on writing and the self-publishing process. They also offer editorial services and events on a variety of topics, like genre-specific writing courses and learning how to get connected with agents.

50. Your Writer Platform

As the name suggest, this site is dedicated to building your writer platform. There are tips, resources, tools, how-tos, and even one-on-one consulting services to help you build the platform that works best for you and your book-selling needs.

Learn about marketing and design with these great writing websites #ampublishing
Click To Tweet

Blogs and websites by industry professionals

51. Goins, Writer

As a best-selling author, Jeff Goins created this blog to share his thoughts and tips on writing and to inspire others to chase after their creative dreams.

52. Jane Friedman

With abundant experience in the publishing industry and general business strategy, Jane Friedman offers online classes and articles on the process of book publishing.

53.
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The Internet is full of writing websites and blogs to help writers reach their creative goals. If you’ve been dreaming of writing your own book, but don’t know how to get there — or if you’re done writing, but feel unsure about what to do next — then it’s your lucky day, because we have put the best writing websites of 2018 in one single place for your convenience. They’re also organized alphabetically and by categories, to make them easier to find. Enjoy!

Check out some of the best writing websites of 2018 here! #amwriting
Click To Tweet

Writing craft and inspiration 1. Almost an Author

Offering great new content on a daily basis, Almost an Author covers a wide-range of writing topics. From genre-specific advice to support on your writing journey, you’ll be able to find something useful, whether you’re already a veteran or just starting out as a writer.

2. Association of Writer & Writing Programs

Having just marked their 50th anniversary, AWP’s site offers resources and opportunities for authors, teachers, and writing students at every point of their career. Here you’ll be able to find information about writing programs, career opportunities, and conferences all over the world. Keep in mind, however, that access to some of these features is restricted to members only.

3. Better Novel Project

In a creative and unique twist to literature, Christine Frazier deconstructs popular novels through drawings to figure out just what makes them so popular. By analyzing their structure, characters, and even word count, she uncovers elements that make up a bestseller and shares them on her blog one doodle at a time.

4. Creative Thinking

Author and former US Army officer Michael Michalko shares his knowledge and expertise on creative-thinking techniques. On his website, he includes exercises, techniques, and thought experiments that will get your creativity flowing.

5. Creativity Portal

This is a wonderful hub for creative resources that has been around for a whopping eighteen years. Here you’ll be able to find writing prompts, coaching, printable templates, and interviews that will help you develop and nourish your the right side of your brain.

6. Daily Writing Tips

As the name suggests, this site offers daily tips and articles on everything from writing prompts to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. It also covers all writing levels and professions, so it doesn't matter how far along  your writing career is — you’ll definitely find useful information here.

7. DIY MFA

Founder Gabriela Pereira created DIY MFA with this mission statement in mind: “Write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community.”

Instead of spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on a master’s degree, this site aims to cover everything you would normally learn at school, while giving you the freedom to decide what to read and how to allocate your time.

8. Electric Literature

While it’s not a craft-related website (so no writing advice or prompts), this nonprofit digital publisher showcases literature-related essays, criticism, and recommended readings that are just as useful and necessary to a successful writing life as any list of tips.

9. Fiction University

Not a real university (obviously), this site aims to provide useful information with plenty of writing examples to help authors build a strong writing foundation. Here you’ll find guest posts by professionals that share their own processes and techniques and also offer advice not just on what you have to do to become a writer, but on how to do it.

10. Free Writing Events

As the name suggest, this website features a thorough calendar of free writing events from all over the world. It also lists contests in a variety of genres, scholarships, and daily Twitter writing events that can help you connect with other writers and industry professionals. This site is no doubt a very valuable resource for any writer.

11. Helping Writers Become Authors

Author K.M. Weiland offers writing advice ranging from outlining and structuring to characterization and dialogue —  plus everything in between!

12. Insecure Writer's Support Group

Whether you are a writing veteran or someone just starting out, there is no doubt that writing can be intimidating. Which is why getting support, guidance, and motivation is vital. Here you can find a wealth of information on writing, publishing, marketing, workshops, and everything else you might need to help you overcome your writing insecurities.

13. Language is a Virus

Here you’ll be able to find a variety of games, exercises, and techniques that can help you work through writer’s block. It also features some excellent generators for creative inspiration.

14. Literary Hub

LitHub offers a great selection of content for all things literary. Here you can find the latest book-related news, posts on design and the writing craft, your dose of daily fiction, and reviews. It also includes a section on literature in translation — a special feature for finding books and authors from all around the world.

15. LitReactor

Here you can find writing classes, workshops, and posts on writing. There’s also a magazine that includes interviews, criticism and analysis, and seasonally appropriate reads and recommendations.  

16. LitRejections

An unfortunate occupational hazard of with writing is rejection. This is where sites like LitRejections come into play, offering personal stories to help writers persevere through their rejections and keep on moving and creating.

17. Live Write Thrive

In this website by professional writer and editor C.S. Lakin, you’ll find plenty of writing advice and tips. She also does annotated critiques that can help you prep your book for publication.

18. My Story Doctor

Author David Farland combines his pre-medical microbiology background with a passion for writing by applying his scientific studies and logical approaches to writing. The results have been over fifty novel-length works and dozens of short stories. In his blog, he offers live and online workshops, writing tips, and private consultations and editing services.

19. NaNoWriMo

Besides being the information hub for the popular writing month, this site also offers inspiration and forums with information on writing tips and strategies that can help you well past November.

20. Now Novel

This is a very comprehensive website founded by author Bridget McNulty. Here you can find writing advice, courses, mentorship, and even an author dashboard where you can keep track of your writing progress and stay organized.

21. Positive Writer

Doubts can plague even the best writers, and if you are uncertain about your abilities, this is the site for you. Bryan Hutchinson created this website to help encourage and inspire those who want to write, no matter how low their confidence.

22. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid offers a great manuscript editing software. It analyzes your writing and creates reports so you can see your strengths and weaknesses. It also includes a thesaurus, grammar checks, style suggestions, and more.

23. Shayla Raquel

As a writer and editor, Shayla Raquel offers advice in most aspects of writing and publishing. She also provides consultations on manuscripts, mentorships, editing, marketing, and more.

24. well-storied

Here you can find articles, free resources, workbooks, tutorials, and discussions on writing. Kristine Kieffer has an extensive archive as well, where you can find information on just about any topic related to books and writing.

25. Write to Done

This site aims to provide the skills necessary to become a better writer: it’s more than just practicing every day, it’s about practicing the right way. Here you can also find motivation, tips, and information on both fiction and nonfiction writing.

26. The Write Practice

As suggested by the name, every post on this site focuses on putting theory into practice! There’s no better way to become a writer than by writing and creating a daily routine, and that’s exactly what this site aims to facilitate.

27. Writer’s Digest

One of the most comprehensive sites when it comes to writing — after all, the magazine has been around for more than ninety years! Here you’ll find articles by genre, writing goals and levels, lists of events and competitions, webinars, free template downloads, writing tips, tutorials, and much more.

28. Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed features articles by authors and industry professionals, focused specifically on the business and craft of writing fiction.

29. The Writing Cooperative

This is a community of people that want to help each other become better writers. Here you’ll find articles on a variety of topics that cover most — if not all — aspects of the writing craft and life. They have monthly writing challenges and there’s even a space where you can contribute with your own article.

30. Writing.com

This is an all-inclusive community for writers. It’s open to writers of all levels and provides a creative environment where they can motivate and support one another. It’s free to join and each member gets a portfolio where they can store and display their writing. It also includes writing tools, contests, and rewards.

Publishing Industry 31. Agent Query

This is a database that allows authors to search for literary agents. You can narrow down your search by genre, view the agents’ full profiles, and even see if they are currently accepting queries — all for free!

32. The Creative Penn

Besides being a bestselling author, Joanna Penn is a leading voice in self-publishing. On her site you’ll find information on writing, self-publishing, marketing, and other useful information as to how you can make a living as a writer.

33. Digital Pubbing

Here you’ll find industry news, interviews with indie authors, and resources for learning more about eBooks and the publishing industry.

34. The Independent Publishing Magazine

This website is all about publishing. If you need information on self-publishing, traditional or hybrid publishing, you’ll be able to find it here. You’ll also find the latest marketing information, technology, and industry news.

35. Publishers Weekly

If you have a question about the publishing world, you’ll most likely find the answer here. This is a weekly magazine packed full of news, reviews, announcements, and many other resources on the industry. It has been dubbed as "the Bible of the book business" and with its extensive archive, it’s easy to see why.

36. Publishing Perspectives

This is one of the leading sources of information on the publishing industry. Aimed at publishers, agents, and authors alike, it features a variety of articles that cover book fairs, distribution, education, and much more.

37. Query Shark

If you are not sure about your query letter, this blog offers the opportunity to have your query critiqued so you can get the best results for your book.

38. Writer Beware

This site lists and compiles information on scams that might affect authors. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but it provides information on any genre and applies to authors all over the world.

39. Writer’s Relief

The staff at Writer’s Relief is on a mission to help authors submit their writing to literary journals, agents, publishers, etc. Their website also has tips, writing contests, and other subscriber-only services.

40. Writers and Authors

This website aims to provide a place where writers can promote their work, learn about the industry, and network with fellow authors.

Publishing websites you should know about #ampublishing
Click To Tweet

Marketing and Design 41. Bakerview Consulting

Authors need social media presence, but for many that is easier said than done. Through this website, consultant, and book blogger Barb Drozdowich tutors authors on what they need to build a successful social platform.

42. The Book Designer

With a background on book design, advertising, and graphic design, Joel Friedlander offers his expertise through articles and consultations to help writers “build better books.” He’s also very knowledgeable about the eBook market, making him a great resource on the topic.

43. Creative Market

While this website is not aimed specifically towards writers, here you’ll find a blog full of inspiration, how-tos, trends, and tips on all things design, which can be very useful for writers thinking about their own cover designs and illustration needs.

44. David Gaughran

As an author of historical adventures, short stories, and popular writers’ books, David Gaughran is a definitive writing expert. In his blog, you can find plenty of information on marketing and self-publishing, as well as workshops aimed at helping writers get published.

45. Kikolani

Focusing specifically on marketing, Kikolani offers tips and strategies for bloggers. Here you’ll find information on brand development, social media, customer retention, and other useful tips that you can put to good use as a writer.

46. Kindlepreneur

Dave Chesson is — in his own words — a “digital marketing nut.” His blog contains all the information you need about Kindle book publishing, increasing your rankings, and various other writing tips and advice.

47. Storiad

Storiad is a platform that helps authors and publishers sell books. Here you’ll find information and guidance on software, databases, tools, and budgetary issues to help you run your own publishing campaign.

48. The Write Life

This website offers extensive information on the “writing life,” particularly on freelancing, marketing, blogging, and publishing.

49. Writers & Artists

As a part of Bloomsbury Publishing, Writers & Artists offers lots of in-depth articles on writing and the self-publishing process. They also offer editorial services and events on a variety of topics, like genre-specific writing courses and learning how to get connected with agents.

50. Your Writer Platform

As the name suggest, this site is dedicated to building your writer platform. There are tips, resources, tools, how-tos, and even one-on-one consulting services to help you build the platform that works best for you and your book-selling needs.

Learn about marketing and design with these great writing websites #ampublishing
Click To Tweet

Blogs and websites by industry professionals 51. Goins, Writer

As a best-selling author, Jeff Goins created this blog to share his thoughts and tips on writing and to inspire others to chase after their creative dreams.

52. Jane Friedman

With abundant experience in the publishing industry and general business strategy, Jane Friedman offers online classes and articles on the process of book publishing.

53. Janet Reid, Literary Agent

As a literary agent, Janet Reid offers her advice on mistakes and pitfalls that all writers should avoid when querying.

54. Nail Your Novel

As a bestselling ghostwriter who now publishes under her own name,  Roz Morris provides writing advice and posts on self-publishing. If you are interested in becoming a ghostwriter, she also offers courses on how to reach your goal.

55. Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford is a former literary agent who offers writing advice and a variety of posts on how publishing works and information on agents and self-publishing. He also does consultations, edits, and critiques. Plus, he’s a Reedsy professional!

56. Rachelle Gardner

As a literary agent, Rachelle Gardner has negotiated over 200 contracts with over twenty publishers and gotten more than 100 authors to fulfil their dreams of publishing. In her blog, she offers writing, publishing, and social media coaching, along with tips on writing and publishing.

Answer all your writing questions with these websites from industry professionals #amwriting
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Picture an intrepid reader in the bookstore. They’re skimming the shelves when their eye is caught by a brilliantly imagined front cover. They pick the book up. Check. The spine is bold and inviting. Check. Then they flip to the back of the book cover — and it’s a boring solid background with no text.

When it comes to book design, your thoughts probably don’t jump straight to a book’s back — it’s not as sexy or attention-grabbing as, say, the front. But it happens to be one of the most important sales tools at your disposal. So let's clear up some misconceptions:

  • I don’t need a back cover to self-publish a print book! CreateSpace and IngramSpark require you to upload a front cover, spine, and back cover.
  • Nobody ever sees the back cover of a book online! Amazon.com now allows customers to view the back of paperback books.

Then there’s the biggest myth of all: nobody pays attention to the back of a book. Almost everyone reads the back cover before they decide whether to purchase. What’s more, they’ll spend only 10 seconds doing it. In this post, we’ll show you how to make that time count so that a reader ends up deciding in your favor.

Contents

What makes a good back cover?
PART 1: How to write the back of a book cover
PART 2: How to design the back of a book cover
Template: Putting the Back Cover Together

What makes a good back cover?

To understand what makes a back cover tick, let’s expose its partner-in-crime: the front cover. When readers browse the bookshelves, it’s the front cover (or spine) that gets them to pick it up. But the job’s not done! At best, they’re only vaguely intrigued at this point. The back cover is there to finish the job.

Done properly, the back cover will motivate the reader to open up and start reading. The best back book covers do this through:

  1. Convincing copy that makes the reader impatient to find out what’s inside.
  2. Some strong aesthetic style — a sign of professionalism and finesse.

To fully cover both points, we’ve split this post into two sections. Part 1 will address the first point: creating great copy for the back of your book cover. Then Part 2 contains tips from our top designers on the best ways to design an aesthetically beautiful jacket.

From Stressed to Blessed, designed by Cassia Friello

But we’ll start by turning to the essentials. What exactly should be on the back of a book cover?

Part 1: How to write the back of a book cover in 4 steps

In general, the back cover design is composed of the following parts:

  • Tagline
  • Blurb
  • Author bio
  • Testimonials

These are the four most common ingredients that the back of a book cover uses, and we’ll run you through each of them.

Tagline

You’ve got three seconds to grab a reader’s attention from the moment they flip it over. So strike them with the tagline right at the top of the back.

The tagline can be a:

  • Short descriptive sentence
  • Catchphrase
  • Quote from the book or review

For instance:

“May the odds be ever in your favor.” – The Hunger Games

“Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…” – Cinder

“A great modern classic and the prelude to Lord of the Rings.” – The Hobbit

“Winter is coming.” – Game of Thrones

As you can see from these examples, a great tagline doesn’t need to summarize the whole novel. But you do need to tease readers. Once you’ve successfully enticed them, their eyes will drift to the next bit of copy: the blurb.

The Blurb

Let’s get this straight. The blurb on your back cover is not the:

  • Synopsis: This is a four-page document that summarizes the entire narrative arc of your book for an agent or publisher.
  • Testimonial “Blurb”: That’s a bunch of short stand-up quotes from a testimonial or review. We discuss this in another section of this post.
  • Book Description: This generally means the copy on your online book sales page.

Here’s what a back blurb is: a description of your book that acts as your 10-second elevator pitch when readers pick it up.

The Tunnel, designed by Jakob Vala

Therefore, your first instinct is probably to make it dazzling. But the real secret to a great blurb is to know your audience. Write it with the reader’s desires in mind. That’s why the blurbs for nonfiction and fiction books are based on two separate formulas.

For nonfiction authors

Nonfiction books should promise to teach the audience something valuable. Therefore, the most effective blurbs will:

  1. Present the question / challenge / problem.
  2. Promise answers.
  3. Tell readers in plain words what they’ll take away from the book.

Here’s the blurb for Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, for instance:

A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?

Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

Notice the ground that it covers in just two paragraphs? If you crawl into the mind of nonfiction readers, they’re basically asking, “What new information will I gain from reading this book?” Don’t be cute or vague. Your best bet is to directly tell them — and use bullet points if you need to communicate a great deal of information efficiently.

For fiction authors

The novel’s blurb should promise intrigue, excitement, mystery, wonder, or drama. Hint at the emotional payoff that awaits them within the pages! Think of a movie trailer and try to capture that effect.

Let’s take a familiar example:

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry's eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

In other words, make your readers curious. Check out this article for more in-depth tips (and examples) on writing a great blurb for your novel.

To recap, your best practices for both nonfiction and fiction blurbs are to:

  • Keep the blurb short, punchy, and interesting
  • Know your target audience and appeal to their specific interests
  • Demonstrate the benefit that readers will get out of your book
The Author Bio

Take note, authors: the bio on the back of your cover isn’t always your “About the Author” section! In many cases, it’s even more compact.

The first rule of the author bio is: KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Here’s an example from David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day:

DAVID SEDARIS is also the author of Barrel Fever, Naked, and Holidays on Ice. He is a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s “This American Life.”

Compare that to the 500-word “About the Author” section that you can find on Mr. Sedaris’ website. See the difference? The bio on the back of the book cover should be the nutshell inside of the nut.

For fiction authors, this is optional. However, nonfiction authors must include an author bio as part of their back cover copy to convince readers of their authority. You can use the author bio template provided in this post on creating a killer author bio.

To recap, your best practices for the author bio are to:

  • Keep the bio on your back cover brief and clear
  • Don’t regale the reader with a description of your eye color: list your previous publications, achievements, education, (if you wish) your place of residence, and (if applicable) your author website
Testimonials

Testimonials (also known as “cover blurbs”) are positive endorsements from notable personalities, such as a fellow author or a publication.

One Day, designed by Aaron Munday

The back of a book cover is the perfect place to put this social proof. Testimonials are incredibly persuasive in transforming potential readers into readers. Our friends at Bookbub carried out an A/B test in which they sent Group A a book description with a testimonial and Group B a version without a testimonial. The book description with a testimonial caused 22.6% more readers to click and buy.

How to get testimonials

You can go to three sources for testimonials:

  1. Fellow authors: These are VIPs or your author friends. Be sure to contact somebody who’s relevant to your genre. Potential readers browsing online will respond to names that they recognize.
  2. Publication reviews: Like a snippet from a New York Times or Washington Post review. If you’re self-publishing and get a review from Publishers Weekly, the back of your book is where you can feature it.
  3. Customer reviews: If you’ve started your book review campaign already (as you should’ve done), you can pluck testimonials from some of your five-star reader reviews.

Start building relationships within the community early! You’ll probably find it easier to reach out to a friend for a cover blurb than cold emailing a stranger.

That said, if you’re asking a VIA (Very Important Author) to read your book, send a polite email. Personalize your note. If they say that they’re open to it, send them a free ARC (advance review copy) of your book.

How to present testimonials on the back of your cover

Generally, you can’t go wrong if you aim to include two or three testimonials. You want to strike a good balance between all the moving pieces, so use your best judgment when determining the number to include.

Then it’s just a matter of following this rule: if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

If you secured a starred review from a publication, be sure to note that in parentheses.

If you won a cover blurb from a fellow author, make sure that the author’s credentials are prominent. For instance:

“There are many pieces to solving the SEO puzzle. From reputation management to content marketing, SEO for Growth will help you put it all together.”

— Joost de Valk, Founder and CEO, Yoast

Or, if you’re the author of a fiction book:

“Her work understands human secrets generally as well as secret places both in the world and in the mind.”

― Lorrie Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Bark and Birds of America

To recap, your best practices for testimonials are to:

  • Start planning early and make sure to get some reviews under your belt if you can't access any fellow authors in the field
  • Emphasize the credentials of the person who's writing your testimonial

Voilà. You’ve got social proof for your book. Now let's turn to the second aspect of the book of your book: design.

Part 2: How to design the back of a book cover

Creating the back of a book cover is a two-step process. You might’ve written brilliant marketing copy for it. Now you need to design it.

To give you complete mastery over this step, we’ve turned to our top designers for their sharp insight. Here are their best tips for you, in their own words:

Tips from designers

Jake Clark: Don't overcrowd your back cover. I've seen too many back covers that are slammed from margin to margin with text with the blurb in the largest font possible. Treat your back cover with the same respect as your front cover. Let your text breathe a little and still be selective in the blurb and supporting text you place on the back cover.

Patrick Knowles: Continue the visual story. Most obviously this could be to repeat a background image or border treatment. Think about how you can create extra elements to enhance the blurb and give it a sense of atmosphere. The main thing is to give some creative energy to the back and make it look as though the whole project is integrated and thought through.

Jakob Vala: Design with a clear hierarchy of information in mind. Make blurbs or callouts bigger or in a different color from the description. Publisher information, if you have it, is the least important. It should be the last thing people notice.

Maxwell Roth: Let it speak to the reader. Too often, I’ll spot a good book cover and turn it over only to find a solid background and an outdated font. Why not use that space to illustrate the author’s text? A book cover can (and should be) an interaction with the reader: A spectacular cover. Turn. A spine to be displayed on a shelf or desk. Turn. A spectacular back cover and continuation of the author’s narrative. And then, to turn the pages.

Jakob Vala: Incorporate elements from the rest of the book. Sometimes I employ the film texture from the front as a background. I also use the same font and color scheme. The drop cap at the beginning of the description can reflect the style used inside the book.

Examples of back covers

These cover spreads can help give you an idea of what a great back cover looks like once these tips are put in practice.

Peter Goes Timeline, designed by Aaron Munday

It Tickled the Whiskers of My Soul, designed by Cassia Friello

Evening's Land, designed by Vanessa Mendozzi

TEMPLATE: Putting the Back Cover Together

Now that you’ve seen what should go onto the back cover, you might be wondering: how do I juggle everything and pull it all together?

We’ve created a couple of templates to show you the most popular configurations out there.

As you start putting your own back cover together, just remember: experiment to find a balance that works for your book. When you hit a perfect balance between all the elements, you’ll have created a back cover that works.

Are you in the middle of designing your own back cover? How have you found the experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post The Complete Guide to Creating the Back of a Book Cover [Template] appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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When we talk about how to make a book in 2018, we often talk about exporting files to Kindles and other ebook readers. But what about the old-fashioned art of making a abook by hand? Some say that bookbinding is a dying art — but we reckon it’s due for a comeback.

In this post, we’ll show you how to make a beautiful book. Not just any blank tome but a beautiful novel, memoir, or non-fiction book — formatted to a professional standard, and bound in a hardback cover. And the best part is that it should cost you no more than fifteen or twenty dollars!

Want to know how to hand-make a hardback book? Look no further!
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So if you’ve written a piece of fiction or non-fiction and you want to know how to make a copy that you can gift to someone special (or have as a keepsake), simply follow all the steps below. Or if you’re looking to create a blank notebook, feel free to jump straight to step three.

You will learn how to:

  1. Format your book to a professional standard (for free)
  2. Print your book into signatures
  3. Assemble the signatures into bound folios
  4. Create a hardcover
  5. Combine the elements
What you will need

Here's what you'll need:

  • Printing Paper (A4 or Letter Size), uncoated 70-80 gsm
  • 2 sheets of decorated paper (A4 or Letter size), 90-100gsm
  • Elmer’s glue (or PVA Glue)
  • Hot melt glue gun (They cost, like, ten bucks)
  • Craft knife
  • Large bulldog clips
  • Good-quality material or paper (for your cover)
  • Thin fabric (large handkerchief, perhaps, or a purpose-made bookcloth)
  • Metal ruler
  • Felt Pen
  • Stapler
  • High-quality cardboard

Once you have these 'ingredients' in place, you're ready to learn how to make a book.

Step 1. Format your book to a professional standard (for free)

This is where we digitally typeset your book of choice and arrange the pages in a way that will help us seamlessly bind it. There are a few pieces of software that will allow you to typeset a book. However, we will recommend you use the Reedsy Book Editor, for three reasons:

  1. It creates professional-grade print-ready files that are easy to read
  2. It requires no training and has next to no learning curve
  3. It’s free

It just so happens to be made by our team at Reedsy — but that’s how we know that it'd be one of the best tools for the job, even if it wasn’t free. It automatically creates your copyright page and handles text like a dream. To see how to use the editor to format your book, check out this video made by our designer, Matt:

Tip: If you want to create your own special edition of a classic title, head to Project Gutenberg and download the text to thousands of titles now in public domain.

When you export your book, you’ll get a number of trim size options. Select Digest (5.5” x 8.5”), which is exactly the size of a piece of Letter paper folded in half.

Then, once you’ve exported your file as a PDF, you can then move onto the printing process.

Find out how to format your physical book to a pro standard (for free).
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Step 2: Print out your book as signatures

If you were to tear almost any hardcover edition apart, you will see that they’re actually made up of individual booklets bound together by glue or thread. These are called folios, and they’re made up of folded ‘signatures.’

What is a signature?

A signature is a single piece of paper with pages of text printed on both sides. They are folded (and sometimes cut) before being assembled into a folio – which is essentially a booklet.

Fun fact: The number of pages in a folio is always a multiple of four — often 16 or 32 pages. That’s why you often see blank pages at the end of a book.

The page-printing order of a 16-sided folio

For our project, the signatures will be single sheets of letter-sized paper with two pages printed on each side. We will assemble eight signatures into folios that house 32 pages of our book. Because of how each piece of paper nestles into this arrangement, each signature must be printed in a specific order — and we'll show you how to do that.

Download Adobe Acrobat Pro

Seeing as we’re dealing with PDFs, why not use the tool created by the people who invented the PDF? Adobe Acrobat Pro is a paid-for tool, but the good news is that just about all Adobe’s creative software comes with a free 30-Day trial.

Once you’ve downloaded the software, open the PDF file.

Make sure your pages are labeled correctly

When you first open the file in Adobe, select “Organize Pages” to see all your pages laid out.

The first thing you’ll need to check is that all the pages are numbered correctly. If you see the page numbers go back to 1 after the front matter (title page, copyright page, etc), you will need to reset the page labels so that it will print properly:

If this is the case, right-click the first page and choose 'Page Numbering.' Then where “Selected” is highlighted, change the setting to 'All.'

This will then label all the pages sequentially and you’re just about ready to print!

Print your book in 32-page booklets

Hit ‘Print,’ and you will see the option to print a booklet that will properly arrange your book into signatures. However, to make sure you don’t just crank out a single unwieldy booklet, print the book 32 pages at a time. Here's how you do it:

  • Select 'Pages' and type in 1 - 32.
  • Under 'Page Sizing & Handling,' select 'Booklet':

  • Then print out pages 1 -32.
  • The pages will need to be printed on both sides of the paper. If your printer supports ‘duplex printing’ it will automatically print on both sides. Otherwise, you’ll need to flip the papers halfway through.
  • You will now have the first 32 pages printed out.
  • Then repeat the process with:
    • Pages 33 - 64
    • Pages 65 - 96
    • Pages 97 - 128
    • And so on….

You may wish to print out multiple copies. If you slip up later in the process, you won’t have to start all over again. Or, if you want to give it a few tries to make a perfectly bound copy, this will give you that leeway.

Top tip: If this sounds too complex, you can go to your local copy shop (Kinkos, et al) and explain to the assistant what you're doing. They'll be more than happy to help.

Choosing the right paper

A massive part of the reading experience comes from feeling the paper under your fingers as you flip through the pages — so selecting the right paper stock is essential. If the paper is too thin and light, the more delicate it will be during the binding process. Choose a stock that's too heavy and thick, then you’ll have trouble folding the signatures (and preventing your novella from looking like a doorstop).

You can source your paper online. Or, even better, go to a stationery store where you can get your hands on the stock before you buy it. If your aim is to create a book that feels professional, our advice is to look for a paper stock that’s:

  • Uncoated
  • 70 or 80 gsm (grams per square meter)

If you like the idea of using recycled paper — that’s great. Just check out a sample before you commit to buying a ream.

Step 3: Assemble the signatures into a folio

You should now have your entire book printed and separated into folios made of eight sheets of paper (upon which 32 pages are printed).

Take the sheets that pages 1 - 32 are printed on and carefully fold each page in half — taking care to do it in the right direction. Then carefully assemble them in the right order and use an open stapler to secure them together like so:

You can staple them on a folded bath towel or an old pair of jeans so that you don’t damage your table. You will also have to bend the points of the staples with your own hands (or using a metal ruler, if you want to spare your fingers).

Between folios, you will want to alternate where you place the staples on the spine so that they don't bulge in places. You can arrange them as in the diagram above.

You will want the pages to be folded as tightly as possible — to achieve this, you can join them with an elastic band and then compress them under a stack of hardbacks and other heavy objects. If you want to, you can leave them there overnight.

And there you have it: your entire book, in a stack of 32-page folios.

Now it’s time to bind these folios together. In some bookbinding processes, stitching is used to join the folios, but in our case, we will use hot glue.

Keep your stack of folios neatly in order with your bulldog clips. Apply hot glue along the spines of the folios — taking care not to use too much glue so that it drips between the folios.

Before the glue cools, apply the fabric to the spine. The fabric should only be affixed to the spine edge of the book — the sections that fall over the front and back cover should be free. Secure the fabric and the folios with bulldog clips.

When the glue cools and sets (you may wish to leave it for a few hours) you will notice that the pages are not all perfectly in line. This is normal. Using your craft knife and ruler, trim away the excess paper until every page is neatly in line.

In the best case scenario, you will only have to trim the edge opposite the spine.

Find out how to create a sweet hardcover for your hand-bound book.
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Step 4: Create your hardcover

Use your stack of folios to measure out two identical hardcovers on your pieces of cardboard. They should ideally be a millimeter-or-so larger than your pages.

Then, measure out a spine. This should have the same height as your front and back covers, while the width of the spine should equal the thickness of your bound folios AND both covers.

Using Elmer’s (or PVA) glue, affix the front and back cover and spine to the book cover paper or material. Leave one-and-a-half times the thickness of the card between the covers and spines). There should also be an inch of extra material around all sides. Make sure that the glue is spread evenly, and use a credit card to push out any bubbles that may have formed.

Apply more glue to the inside of the cover and wrap the material around like so:

Step 5: Combine the elements

This part is a little delicate and will have a lasting impact on readability. The bound folio will now be attached to the hardcover. The loose wings of fabric on both sides of the spine will be affixed to the front and back covers using Elmer's glue.

Warning: No glue should touch the spine board or the fabric on the spine of your bundle. Make sure they don’t stick together in any way.

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Last updated: 04/06/2018

If you are a self-publishing author who wants to know how to format a book, there are plenty of tools and resources available to you. Many choose to format a book in Word — but writers shouldn’t just make this choice by default. Ensure you take the time to explore the different options available for formatting your manuscript because achieving clean design is a vital part of publishing success.

In this step-by-guide to formatting a book, we’re going to give you tips for producing a professional-looking final product, and explain how our very own free book formatter — the Reedsy Book Editor — can make the job simple for you. In a nutshell, here are the 6 steps for formatting a book:

  1. Import your book into the Reedsy Book Editor
  2. Update the formatting with the Reedsy formatting bar
  3. Add images, endnotes and scene breaks
  4. Add a cover for your ebook
  5. Configure your front matter
  6. Select the file you need: EPUB to create an ebook or PDF for print-on-demand (POD)

What are the six steps to formatting a book? Find out here.
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Why should I use the Reedsy Book Editor to format my book?

With the input of the expert designers, our product team designed a book production tool that allows authors to create manuscripts that meet the high standards set by the industry. Whether you want to create an ebook, or produce physical copies, there are many reasons to turn to the Editor, including: no previous design knowledge required, your work is securely stored in the could and accessible for any device (no need to install any software), professionally designed templates, compatible with a variety of distribution platforms, unlimited exports, and more.

Comparing the Reedsy Book Editor with Word, Scrivener, InDesign, Calibre, Pressbooks and Vellum

And did we mention it’s fast? We tested the RBE this morning and were able to format and typeset an 80,000-word novel in under 10 minutes.

But before you set your timer, let’s quickly cover why it’s so important to come to market with well-designed book interior.

Why is book formatting important?

The readability of a book depends entirely on how your manuscript is formatted. A work with poor readability, well, probably won’t be read — and won’t sell. So if you want to go toe-to-toe with traditionally published titles, your product needs to look its best, inside and out. While cover design is critical for a reader's first impression, interior design and typesetting shouldn’t be overlooked. For more information on typesetting, check out our guide to interior book design

To go toe-to-toe with traditional titles, your product needs to look its best, inside and out.
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The art of book formatting is not new. In fact, manuscripts produced during the medieval era conformed to a well-defined set of rules that publishers today are still following. The canons of page construction, for example, describe how a manuscript’s proportions, margins and type areas (print spaces) should be constructed.

But we know that learning the technicalities of making a book can’t be learned overnight — and that hiring a professional interior designer for your manuscript might not be in every author’s budget. So let’s get on to your DIY guide for how to format a book.

Check out indie author T.M. Holladay’s story about using the Editor to format her book for publishing.

6 steps for formatting a book Step 1 - Import your book into the Reedsy Book Editor

Regardless of the software you’ve been using to write (Word, Pages, Google Docs, Scrivener, etc.), your first step is to import the manuscript into the Editor. We’re still developing an “import from file” feature, which will be available soon. Meanwhile, you will have to:

  • Create chapters or parts
  • Copy and paste the content of your text file into those chapters

Throughout this process, you should note that Reedsy respects the existing formatting of your manuscript, which means that our software will retain elements like headings, links and inline styles (italic / bold). Here’s what it looks like:

Note that we will also soon introduce a chapter break feature to automatically split the content of one chapter into two, saving you copy and paste time when importing a manuscript for the first time.

Once your manuscript is nestled comfortably into the editor, the formatting can begin!

Step 2 - Format your content

One of the features that makes our book production tool really smart is the formatting bar: simply select the type of paragraph or character style you want to use and the formatting will be applied.

Available paragraph styling options are:

  • Two types of paragraphs: one with a serif font for most of your text, and a sans serif font to offset content you want to stand out (such as a letter or diary entry)
  • Three levels of headings to structure your content (mainly for non-fiction books)
  • Three alignment options: left, centered, and right
  • Two types of lists: bullet points and numbers
  • Quotations
  • Code (coming soon)

Once you’ve defined your paragraphs’ styling, you can customize your font styling with the following options:

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Strikethrough
  • Subscript, superscript
  • Link and cross-references

You’ve mastered the formatting bar and are ready to get a little fancy. On to step 3...

Step 3 - Add images, endnotes, and scene breaks

Books that meets industry standards but are also unique and personal? Brilliant! The next step is to enrich your existing content with:

  • Images and captions
  • Endnotes
  • Scene breaks (for fiction)

You will find your endnotes in a dedicated chapter at the end of your book for reference:

At this point your manuscript’s interior is taken care of and it’s time to focus on its exterior.

Step 4 - Add a book cover

You can now click on the Export icon which will lead you to our Export page — where most of the magic happens.

The first thing you should do here is upload your cover. Make sure you upload an image that follows the requirements of the ebookstores you are using for distribution. For best results, we recommend your cover image use a ratio of 1:1.6 and measure at least 2500px on the longest side. But if you’re not sure, check out our handy guide on how to choose the right book cover dimensions.

Note that for physical books, POD services will require both a PDF with the full jacket and a separate PDF for the book’s interior. For the book’s jacket, we recommend working with a designer from the Reedsy marketplace who knows the requirements of different POD services and will be able to provide you with the right file.

Check out these formatting tips for producing a beautiful, professional-looking book.
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Step 5 - Configure your front matter

“Front matter” refers to the parts of your manuscript that come before the actual content begins. With the Editor, you can configure the following front matter elements:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Edition number
  • Year of publication
  • Publisher name and logo (if any)
  • ISBN number(s)

Note that you won’t need an ISBN for most ebook retailers, as they have their own identifying number. For instance, Amazon uses the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) and creates a new one for free every time you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Similarly, Apple iBooks no longer requires an ISBN.

There’s currently a debate about whether or not ISBNs still make sense, and you can read more about it here. For now, you’ll still need an ISBN if you’re planning on printing POD versions, and most POD services will provide you with one for free.

Once your ISBN has been added, the next step is to configure your table of contents. For this, Reedsy gives you four options.

Step 6 - Select the file you need: EPUB to create an ebook or PDF for print-on-demand (POD)

We’re getting closer! It’s now time to decide whether you want to create an ebook, print copies, or both. This will also determine whether you need an EPUB or PDF file. If you’re undecided, you can check out our guide to EPUB vs. PDF.

How to create an ebook: download an EPUB file

Your EPUB will be compatible with Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore, the Kobo Store, Nook Press, Google Play and NetGalley.

Next, decide how you’d like to organize your endnotes (if applicable). You can either have them positioned at the end of every chapter or all together at the end of the book.

For print copies: download a PDF file

The files created are currently compatible with most POD services (Lulu, CreateSpace, IngramSpark, CPI, etc.). Again, the first step is to position your endnotes. For physical copies, you can decide whether you’d like them to be footnotes at the bottom of a page, or actual endnotes at the end of your book.

Unlike ebooks, your physical copy needs to be set to a trim size ready for printing. Reedsy currently offers a few different options, based on popular industry standard sizes:

  • Pocket 4.25 x 6.87 in (10.80 x 17.45 cm)
  • Reedsy 5 x 8 in (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
  • Digest 5.5 x 8.5 in (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
  • Trade 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)

Which trim size should you pick? There’s no clear-cut answer. Your choice depends on the genre and audience of your book, the length of the manuscript, and, of course, your personal preference. To make a decision here, we recommend that you spend some time in a bookstore with a ruler to determine what makes most sense for your future bestseller.

Here are a few pictures to give you a sense of what those different sizes look like:

From left to right: Reedsy 5 x 8 in - Digest 5.5 x 8.5 in - Trade 6 x 9 in

Once you’ve selected your trim size, simply pick a template and hit the download button. Your moment of glory is only seconds away as the editor typesets your book and gets it ready to be downloaded!

As a bonus, we have a short video tutorial for formatting your manuscript in the Reedsy Book Editor.

Head to our Reedsy Book Editor and format your book for free, in just a few seconds. And if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

The post How to Format a Book with the Reedsy Book Editor appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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Think that you’re ready to publish your book? Think again. Before you publish a book, it’s not enough to make sure that the content of your book is good — you need to ensure that it looks good on the page for potential readers. Imagine your gut reaction to a room that’s sloppy and cluttered, for instance. Not great, right? If the interior design of your book is similarly slipshod, your readers will also discover a sudden urge to back away slowly.

That’s why we’ll sum up the secret to a more inviting reading experience in one word now: typesetting.

In this post, we define what is typesetting and investigate what separates the pros from the amateurs (and why it really matters). Then we answer the biggest question of all: how can you make sure that you’re properly typesetting your own book? Let’s find out.

What is typesetting?

Typesetting is the process of setting text onto a page. In this stage, which occurs towards the end of book production, the typesetter arranges the book’s interior to create the best reading experience. He or she will, among other things:

  • Determine the size of the margins,
  • Style the chapter starts, and
  • Pick the right font typeface and size for the content.

At its core, typesetting is all about visual communication. Underestimating the importance of typesetting is a mistake, because that would affect the readability of your book — which, in turn, impacts its sales. In the words of world-class typographer Erik Spiekermann:

"Design works not because people understand it, but because it's subliminal."
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It might be useful to imagine this in the context of rail transport. Poor typesetting is equivalent to a set of rusty train tracks: it clanks and clatters on the page, erratically dropping the reader in and out of the story. Then there’s the ideal ride, which is so smooth that passengers forget that they’re in a train. Though both mechanisms get the reader to the destination eventually, you’ll end up noticing that the second makes the journey (or, in this case, the reading experience) that much more enjoyable.

Wait, what’s the difference between typesetting and typography?

One more thing: don't mistake typesetting with typography. Typography is the “art” of text creation — the choice of font, the use of space, the addition of other decorative elements like drop shadows and embossing. (Picture the artistic stylization of the type in a lyric video, for instance.) Typesetting, on the other hand, is simply the “process” of setting text onto a page.

You might say that typesetting is more a craft than an art. But what does it involve?

How exactly does typesetting work?

If you’ve just realized you don’t actually know that much about typesetting, there’s a very good reason why: typesetting succeeds when the reader is completely oblivious to it. So let’s throw back the drapes and unmask it now.

Good typesetting isn't obvious — done well it's invisible. Readers should be able to look up from reading to discover they've missed their stop or missed their bedtime, and, most importantly, don't mind. – Annabel Brandon

The interior of a book is decided by a number of factors. These include the book’s:

  • trim size (note that there are standard book sizes for this)
  • margins (the more pages in a book, the bigger the margins may be)
  • illustrations (if applicable)
  • font typefaces and sizes (for the body text, chapter starts, captions, etc.)

These are the first specifications that a typesetter will spend much time deciding. Why? Well, take the font, for instance. Should you go with serif or sans-serif? (This will probably depend on your genre.) Does your choice of typeface impact the font size? (Hint: yes.) In turn, will this change your placement of the drop caps and illustrations? Everything on the page is part of a complex and delicate dynamic that communicates to the reader on a subliminal level — and getting one element wrong could be a capital offense in the making.

What is typesetting? We answer every burning question about the craft in this post
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Once these elements are decided, then the typesetter will begin the actual process of setting the text and illustrations on the page. As you know, the devil’s in the details — and it’s time to confront him, since there are a lot of things that can go wrong in this particular phase. Euan Monaghan, an art director and professional typesetter, illuminates a few of the common problems that typesetting addresses (with explanations and the correct layout):

1. A 'ladder' of hyphenated words. Throws the paragraph off balance.

2. Poor letter spacing. Too tight, too loose, or sometimes both in the same paragraph. Creates ugly 'rivers' of white space.

3. Hyphens used instead of en- or em-dashes.

4. Two spaces used between sentences.

5. Leading (inter-line spacing) too tight throughout. Text needs room to breathe.

These are all steps the typesetter must consciously take to guarantee that the content of a book is clear, clean, and professional. Mess it up, and you risk dropping rattled readers out of your book altogether.

Typesetting, not word processing

You might be thinking, “I can do all of this in Microsoft Word with the click of a finger!”

Mistake. Microsoft Word might genuinely be one of the worst kinds of typesetting software to use. To see why, just take a quick look at some more examples of typesetting’s responsibilities:

  • Kerning: Adjusting the spacing between characters. Look no further than these 15 typesetting examples of awful kerning to figure out why kerning is important.
  • Orphans and widows: Precluding “orphans,” which occur when the last row of a paragraph ends on the top of a page, and “widows,” which are its vice-versa.
  • Word stacks: This occurs when consecutive rows of text start or end with the same word. Avoid it.
  • Drop caps: Stylizing the first character of the first paragraph in a chapter.
  • Book blocks: The block of text on each facing page of a book should end on the same row.

That’s a lot of variables to juggle! If you’re publishing a book that includes things other than text (think photography books or cookbooks), the interior of your book will moreover need to grapple with illustrations, captions, footnotes, and tables.

This isn’t to say that Word can’t tackle all of the above. It can — to a degree. But there’s a ceiling to what you can accomplish with Word, for one very good reason: Word (and Microsoft Office) was never meant to be a typesetting software. It was built with businesspeople and simple reports in mind.

Top self-pub tip: Microsoft Word ISN'T your best typesetting choice. So what is? #selfpub
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So, the short answer is: no, Microsoft Word isn’t a great typesetting software for those who really want to professionally typeset. If you want to be driven bonkers by Word for ages, by all means, we won’t stop you. But there are better solutions if you want to typeset your book in a smart or aesthetically pleasing manner.

Let’s turn to that obvious question now: how should you typeset your book?

How to typeset a book

To typeset a book, you can either:

  1. Hire a professional typesetter, or
  2. Typeset yourself through DIY typesetting software (not Microsoft Word).

Which route is best? That depends on the type of book you're writing and the emphasis you're placing on creating the best product possible. For instance, if you’re publishing a book that’s illustration-intensive, we strongly recommend you to turn to a professional typesetter. Skip to the next section for some tips on finding the right typesetter.

But first, we’ll explore the DIY formatting tools out there for those of you who want to typeset by yourself.

How to DIY typeset

The good news is that you’ve got a couple of options when it comes to typesetting software. So if you’re confused about which relationship is right for you, don’t worry: we’ll figure out your type right now.

LaTeX

This is a neat (and free) typesetting software that gives you advanced control over your typesetting. It's great at formatting nonfiction books and documents that include cross-references, footnotes, tables, or figures. Be forewarned, though: LaTeX is an open-source system, so you’ll need to be somewhat versed in coding to extract the most out of it.

It's a  for: Technical reports and text-only books. Find out more about LaTeX at its webpage.

Reedsy Book Editor

How to make a book using the Reedsy Book Editor - YouTube

Disclaimer: we’re the team that created the Reedsy Book Editor. Basically, our objective was to simplify the process of making a beautifully typeset book. We believe that we succeeded. The Reedsy Book Editor is a one-click formatting tool that makes it incredibly easy to typeset books in a professional manner — and it is (and always will be) free for writers to use. 

It's a  for: Text-only books. Find out more about the RBE in this FAQ.

Adobe InDesign

InDesign is an incredibly powerful design software that professional designers use. You can use it too, though it’ll set you back a cool $239. InDesign is capable of kerning, stroking, paragraph formatting, drop cap stylization — all things that might take you ages to carry out in Word. But the curve to master its functions is really steep. If you’re willing to spend that time (or if you’re publishing an illustration-intensive book), we recommend trying out its free one-month trial.

It's a  for: More complex books that contain many illustrations and page spreads.

If this is all a bit overwhelming to you, don’t worry! Typesetting is a discipline that takes years to master. If you can’t commit the time that it takes to become a great typesetter, it might be a better use of your resources to work with a pro. Speaking of which...

Tips for working with a professional typesetter

Professional typesetters are basically experienced designers whose medium of choice is typography. However, it’s important to make sure that you find the right typesetter for your work, which is why we’ve got some tips for you below — straight from the professional typesetters on our marketplace.

1. Get a typesetter who’s familiar with the genre or market of your book.
Euan Monaghan: Each category often brings its own conventions and styles. The writer may wish to follow these conventions, or utterly subvert them — but your designer needs to understand the 'normal' baseline for the intended readership.

2. Look at typesetting examples of their work.
Rachel Reiss: Always feel free to ask them to email you some PDFs, so you can examine their work up close. If they’ve designed different types of books, do the designs vary from book to book and do the different designs feel as though they "fit" the content of the books? Is it easy and comfortable to read the text?

PRO-TIP: If you’re on Reedsy’s marketplace, you can click through typesetters’ portfolios to check out typesetting examples of their work.

3. Judge the typesetter's work as a reader.
Annabel Brandon: When you've encountered someone that may be suitable, try not to look at the design, instead, read their work. If it reads well, and you don't stumble or specifically notice anything, it's perfect. If a designer chooses to add ornamentation, there should be an apparent reason as to why. Otherwise it's a distraction, and doesn't honour the text itself.

4. Educate yourself and ask questions.
Kevin Kane: Designers, especially book designers, are some of the nerdiest people you’ll ever meet. Having an interest in their trade can make a big difference in the author-designer relationship. Ask questions about the designer’s process, and about the decisions they make while designing a book. If you find a designer who can’t answer your questions about book design thoroughly, you’ve probably taken on the wrong designer.

Generally, the cost of a typesetter will depend on the type of book that you’re publishing — the typesetters on our marketplace charge between $500 and $2,000, for instance. However, whichever route you choose in the end, just remember to keep the end goal in sight: a polished, clean, and welcoming book interior that invites readers into the story.

Have you typeset a book before? Which typesetting software did you use and what did you think of the process? Share your experiences in the comments below! We'd love to hear your thoughts

The post What is Typesetting? Your Guide to Interior Book Design appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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When we talk about book cover design, we often talk about the color palette, typography and use of images. What we rarely mention are the dimensions of the cover. After all, it’s usually determined by the book’s trim size. That, or it’s seemingly inconsequential, as most new independent authors rely on ebook sales anyhow, where the cover only really exists on digital retailers.

In this post, we'll look at the standard sizes of book covers in publishing and help you decide on the right dimensions for your design.

Contents

Before we jump too far into the conversation, let's start by looking at the most popular ebook cover sizes used today.

What are the recommended book cover dimensions?
  • Kindle Direct Publishing recommended size — 2,560 x 1,600 (1.6:1 aspect ratio)
  • Novels and Non-Fiction — 2,560px x 1,600px (1.5:1 aspect ratio)
  • Illustrated Books — 2,800px x 3,920px (1.4:1 aspect ratio) or 3,000px x 3,600px (1.2:1 aspect ratio)
  • Audiobooks — 3,200px x 3,200px (1:1 aspect ratio)

These numbers might be confusing at first, especially if you're not familiar with pixels and aspect ratios. In this next section, we'll take a closer look at what these terms mean, and how they will affect your cover.

Choosing the size and shape of your eBook Cover

The average ebook reader’s screen (Kindle, Nook Simple, and iPad) has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 — which means that for every 100 px (pixels) of width, there will be 133 pixels of height. This is equivalent to the shape of your old, standard definition TV. However, few publishers bother creating a cover that perfectly fits the Kindle. Each device will center the cover design seamlessly and, more often than not, the reader will never actually see it on their e-reader.

So, instead of focusing on how your cover design will look on an ebook reader, consider how it will look on the retail platform. A book cover has to make an impact as a thumbnail if it has any hope of doing its job. Therefore, the aspect ratio is critical.

Kindle Direct Publishing's Recommended Size – 1.6:1

The Amazon store is very flexible when it comes to the range of cover sizes that authors can upload to their product page. However, they do issue this recommendation:

The ideal size of your eBook cover art is a height/width ratio of 1.6:1. This means that for every 1,000 pixels in width, the image should be 1,600 pixels in height. To ensure the best quality for your image, particularly on high definition devices, the height of the image should be at least 2,500 pixels. Ideal dimensions for cover files are 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.

1.6:1 is a ratio you will see in paperback fiction — especially with the smaller, mass-market formats. You might notice, however, that it results in a ‘thinner’ design than you would expect from most novel covers on Amazon.

Novels and Non-Fiction – 1.5:1

Publishers will commonly display a novel's original hardcover design on the book's Kindle page — and those designs often have a 1.5:1 ratio. It’s a bit ‘wider’ than Amazon’s recommended size, which offers more 'real estate' for the design, and this is extra-critical when you're displaying them in thumbnail form.

Screenshot via Amazon.com

It’s important to note that by using this slightly wider cover format, the design doesn’t tend to be made any ‘shorter’ to compensate. The cover is actually a little larger, which can make a massive difference at this scale.

To use the 1.5:1 ratio, we recommend setting your cover's dimensions to 2500 x 3750

Illustrated Books – 1.4:1 or 1.2:1

In general, illustrated titles such as photography, art, and cookery books tend to have a ‘wider’ trim which lends itself to the imagery. As a result, they tend to have covers with a 1.4:1 or a 1.2:1 aspect ratio, as you can see in the cookbooks below:

Screenshot via Amazon.com

For these sorts of books, the artwork is a massive selling point — and these two formats can help the cover photography stand out.

To use the 1.4:1 ratio, we recommend setting your cover's dimensions to 2800 x 3920

To use the 1.2:1 ratio, we recommend setting your cover's dimensions to 3000 x 3600

Audiobooks – 1:1

If you’re making an audiobook, congratulations for entering the fastest growing sector of publishing! When it comes to deciding what size to make your audiobook cover, the work has already been done for you.

Screenshot via Amazon.com

Audiobook covers have a 1:1 aspect ratio, which some people might describe as “a square.” This is a throwback to ye olde days when people listened to books on CD.

In a lot of cases, indie authors will make the decision to record an audiobook after the launch of the original book. This sometimes leads to the audiobook cover simply being a ‘cropped’ version of the paperback design. We would urge you, however, to work with your original designer on amending the design for audio. That way, they can re-adjust the type and imagery in a way that’s best suited to a square design.

To use the 1:1 ratio, we recommend setting your cover's dimensions to 3200 x 3200

As we’ve mentioned already, choosing a set of dimensions for your cover requires you to balance a few needs:

  • the need to fit in with other books in your genre,
  • the need to stand out from other books in your genre (ironically),
  • the need grab a reader’s attention as a thumbnail.

Now that we've had a look ebook designs, let's quickly touch on covers for printed books.

What are the ideal dimensions of a printed book cover?

If you intend to create a physical version of your book, either by POD (Print on Demand) or by sending off for a print run, then your cover dimensions will largely be determined by your trim: the size and shape of each page. Depending on where you're based, this will be measured in inches or millimeters.

When choosing a trim size, bear in mind:

  • How it will affect your printing costs. Printers will charge more per-page when the trim is more substantial. However, it may also mean fewer pages, which could reduce the cost.
  • Each category has its standard book sizes. If you aim to create a title that fits the market, you may wish to adhere to the standards of the genre.

If you have any intention of selling print books, please do look through this post on standard book sizes. It will provide you recommended proportions for most major categories including novels, non-fiction, and picture books.

From left: 5” x 8”, 5.5” x 8.5” (digest) and 6” x 9” (trade)

Once you have determined the trim size of your book — that is, the exact dimensions of the pages — you must then figure out how that relates to the size of the cover. Createspace/KDP Print and IngramSpark, the two largest POD services in the world, will require you to submit a cover design that includes the front cover, the back cover, the spine, and bleeds.

When setting up the cover design file, the width can be calculated by adding:

  • 2 x Trim Width. This would be the front and back cover.
  • Spine Width. This needs to be carefully calculated, based on your page count and paper stock. Use Createspace/KDP Print and IngramSpark's figures for accurate and up-to-date values.
  • 2 x Bleed. A bleed is an extra bit of design that is extended on all sides, to allow for slight printing errors. For most printers, they will want a bleed of 0.125” (3mm) on all sides of the design — not including the border between the covers and the spine.

And the height can be calculated by finding the sum of:

  • Trim Height
  • 2 x Bleed. 0.125” or 3mm, typically.

The good news is, if you're using a professional designer, they will take all this into account for you. But if you're making your own cover, you can look for templates on whatever design software you're using, and make sure that the settings match up with your printers' specifications.

What resolution should you choose?

When creating a print cover, the resolution you choose is almost as important as the dimensions. After all, you don't want to spend ages making sure that the front cover is exactly 6 inches side, only for the design itself to be blurry and muddy.

The cover on the right has half the dots per square inch (DPI) of the version on the left.

Both Createspace/KDP Print and IngramSpark suggest a resolution of 300 dots per square inch (DPI) for your cover design. And in the case of most printers, a CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow) color profile is preferred over an RGB (Red Green Blue) one.

To learn more about designing your perfect cover, check out this complete guide to book cover design on the Reedsy blog.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on book covers and their recommended dimensions? Drop a message in the comments below.

The post How to Choose the Right Book Cover Dimensions appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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We have to start this article by posing the question: is it a good idea to design your own book cover if you are hoping to be a selling author? We all know the answer to this: if you’re not a professional designer and you can avoid it, don’t design your own book cover. And we all know the reason why: the cover is your book’s #1 marketing asset. Having a bad cover is like climbing Kilimanjaro in flip-flops.

Cover designer Ninai Freitas urges authors to think of book covers as long-term investment: “It is better to have a well-designed book cover that can help increase sales. Good book covers shouldn’t be an afterthought — they are necessary to publishing success. And you can have the best tools — such as Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign — but these programs don’t make automatically a book cover. What counts is the person using them.”

Of course, authors don't typically design their own covers for the fun of it. Budget plays a very valid role in an indie author’s publishing decision. On our marketplace, professional designers charge on average $650 to design a cover — however 16% of the designers polled will often charge under $400. So there is definitely wiggle room for different budgets.

But hey — we get it — $400 is still a pretty penny, especially if you’ve already paid for professional editing. So if you’re set on designing your own cover and willing to put in the legwork to learning a new skill, here are some resources you might consider.

Free resources to design your own book cover (or under $10)

If nothing gets your heart going faster than a “Free Samples!” sign at the grocery store, these book cover makers are for you.

1) Canva

While this list is not in order of preference, we do feel that of all the free book cover design options, Canva is #1. The main reason for this is how well it caters to its users. Most authors on the hunt for a design tool won’t have tons of previous design experience — and developing this experience requires a long-term time commitment. What Canva offers is a wide variety of book cover template options and stock photos — all of which can be used with a single click of a button. Writers can then customize these templates with their own pictures, fonts, etc. The best part is that their options are contemporary and will let you create a cover that feels fresh.

Pro: It’s hand-holding-design, which is a great option for authors who want to DIY on the fly.
Con: When you use ready-made templates, you risk ending up with a bland cover that resembles a lot of other covers out there. So make sure you don’t use the templates totally “as is.”

Hot tip: If you’re not going to work with a professional, at the very least try and emulate one. In this recent post, we feature 68 jackets and break down why they work so you can take away your own book cover design ideas!

2) Poster My Wall

Another library of book cover templates that you can easily customize to your liking. One of the best things about this tool is that it’s connected to Getty Images, Pixabay, and Flickr. So countless free images of a sunset, a silhouetted figure, or iconic locations from any of these three stock photo meccas are as easy as clicking on “photo” and plugging in the right search term. Any terms or conditions for using the photo will also be presented to you, so you know straight off the bat if there are any limitations. Free downloads will come with a “Poster My Wall” logo, or you can pay 2-5 dollars for a logo-less version.

Pro: No learning curve, designing a cover here feel like a fairly intuitive process.
Con: Poster My Wall allows people to create templates for others to use, and there aren’t a ton of restrictions on who’s allowed to do so. So you may have to sift through some amateur designs, and in the end, you may end up paying a price — albeit a very cheap one — for a template by someone who knows less about design than you do.

Top 7 resources to design your own book cover — and tips for how!
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3) Placeit

It might not look as pretty as Canva, but Placeit offers a variety of cover template options with customizable tools that let it stand on its own. Its best feature is that you can select your template based on genre, which is a good way to get set in the right direction for making your book cover a viable marketing tool.

Pro: You can also download 3D book cover mockups which are useful for promoting your book.
Con: There is a small fee — these covers will cost $8 to download.

Hot tip: “Whether it’s a seductive figure, an antique key, or a barren countryside, be sure that the imagery you choose is in-line with the target market/genre, and that the imagery will portray the correct mood, symbolism, and plot.” – Hampton Lamoureux, digital artist and designer

4) GIMP

The nice thing about GIMP is that… it’s free! Totally free, no added costs. However, where you will spend is with your time. Any Photoshop-type software will have a learning curve that requires dedication and commitment. But GIMP’s lack of a price tag offers authors a little more flexibility while they get comfortable, and once you do get a grasp of the program, you can design more freely than with simple book template resources.

Pro: Has features similar to Adobe Photoshop, such as clone stamping, custom brushes, and layering.
Con: The learning curve.

Hot tip: Want a guide that breaks down the steps of designing your own book cover? Head here.

Should you design your own book cover? Probably not, but if you're going to, here's how.
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Paid resources for designing your own book cover

We will say here that if you’re willing to spend money on a photo editing software, we suggest you instead think about investing that money into hiring a professional cover designer. If you’re still not convinced, here are some options that either have free trials, or are cheap enough not to break the bank.

5) Adobe InDesign (free trial/$19.99/month)

Alright, gear up and buckle down if you’re planning to learn and use Adobe InDesign. It’s a great product that can produce beautiful things, but it’s a tool for professionals — and therefore it’s created with someone who knows design in mind. That also means it possesses the functions to create professional-looking covers — but again, learning how to do this won’t be easy. You’ll want to go through some tutorials to get your head around this software. Luckily for you, Adobe has created a fairly thorough step-by-step guide to creating book covers right here. And if you’re really committed to learning about book design, this software is also a favorite for interior book formatting.

Pro: There’s nothing like slicing and dicing in the kitchen with an uber sharp chef’s knife. Expertly crafted tools can give expert results.
Con: The steep learning curve and price tag — InDesign will set you back $19.99 a month on the basic plan.

Hot tip: “Go to a bookshop and just spend a couple of hours looking at as many book covers as you can. See what jumps out at you. In your opinion, what doesn't work? Use all these examples to inspire you with your design.” – Talitha Shipman, award-winning illustrator

6) Blurb Bookwright

There’s something weird about using a design software that isn’t designed in an aesthetically pleasing way. Luckily, that’s not something to worry about with Blurb. It’s a pleasure to work on, and look at. Most people turn to Blurb when they’re looking to also design the interior of their books, as their tool is very friendly to image-friendly works — such as photography or cookbooks. But it’s an inexpensive option for formatting trade novels as well. Their design tool, Bookwright, is absolutely free to download and has valuable learning resources built-in. Using it is a bit like a mix of one of the template resources and one of the Photoshop-type programs, but simpler to use.

Pro: This is an easy-to-use, inexpensive option for putting together your whole book — you can even use it to assign an ISBN.
Con: If you’re just looking to design a cover and leave it at that, look elsewhere.

7) Adobe Spark (free trial/$9.99 month)

A cheaper book cover maker by Adobe? Score! Well… maybe. If you don’t know a lick about design, Adobe is a good place to be. They’ve always got a wealth of resources, from tutorials to blog posts packed with design inspiration. Their book cover designer and templates offer a solid tool. However, if you go with the free plan, you’ll be left with “Adobe Spark” logo on your finished product. The premium plan is $9.99/month which is cheaper than most other Adobe options (see InDesign below). However, unless you’re planning to use it to create and manage promotional materials for your book (such as images to post on social media), you’re probably better off sticking to a free option, such as Canva.

Pro: Adobe offers a plentiful of resources to the people who use their products.
Con: Free version doesn’t beat other free options out there.

Hot tip: To learn more about typography and book design, check out our monthly Cover Critiques on Reedsy Live.

Have you designed your own book cover? Do you have a professionally designed cover? Maybe you've tried both! Leave us any thoughts or questions about book design in the comments below.

The post Top 7 Resources to Design Your Own Book Cover appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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You know the mantra: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But that’s easier to say than do. A book's cover is your not-so-secret weapon when it comes to sales and the reader's very first impression of a book. Or, as famed designer Paul Sahre once put it in an interview with Penguin Random House:

“On a purely functional level, a jacket is there to protect the book, but I also like to think of a book cover as a door. It’s the beginning of the experience of reading.”

Basically, book cover design is one of the book’s most important assets — and you need to get it right. So if you’re looking for some insight into what makes a cover click, why not learn from the best?

We cherry-picked 68 brilliant covers to give you some book cover ideas. That's right, we're going to give you permission to judge them. So that you've got a maximum range of covers for inspiration, we broke this post down into three sections: those that employ illustration brilliantly, those that excel in their use of typography, and those that are genre-specific. Happy viewing!

68 book cover ideas that can (and will) inspire your next book! #bookdesign
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Contents

23 Illustration-oriented Book Covers
25 Typography-focused Book Covers
20 Genre-specific Book Cover Ideas

Fantasy
Children's
Romance
Memoirs
Thrillers

Illustration-oriented Book Covers 1. Minimalism is still trendy.

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Tom Lenartowicz, Rodrigo Corral, Johannes Wiebel, Peter Mendelsund, David Drummond.

To quote Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Minimalist covers strip a cover elegantly down to its bare essentials. Often characterized by a simple font and a marginal amount of content, these quiet, clever covers instead rely on white space to turn acres of nothing into something.

2. Employ the cover to convey the book’s “one idea.”

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Na Kim, Mario J Pulice, Janet Hansen, Adly Elewa, Keith Hayes, Suzanne Dean.

A great cover doesn’t necessarily need to be complex. In fact, the goal for many cover designers is simply to distill the essence of a book into one image — or “one idea,” so to speak.

"The goal of a #bookcover is to distill the essence of a book into one image." More tips here!
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This simple result can be spectacular. Take the cover image for Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, which features a lone brain-shaped rock. Or Anne Michaels’ book of poetry, All We Saw, which presents an outstretched hand draped under a night sky — an image that at once imparts the book’s theme of connection in the middle of a vast universe. To no one’s surprise, the designer will want to make sure that this “one idea” is the centerpiece, so you’ll find that the typography is more often than not restrained on these covers.

3. The silhouette can turn heads.

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Joel Tippie, Christopher Brand, Alison Forner, Jeffrey Nguyen, Jarrod Taylor, Lynn Buckley.

Ah, the silhouette. There’s a reason why it’s so ubiquitous on covers: it’s really, really effective at getting a reader’s attention. Who wouldn’t glimpse a shadowy figure and automatically go, “Who’s THAT?”

That said, you could say that the silhouette is a victim of its own nebulous triumph. It’s so common that it can be tough to make it original these days. Designers who succeed often play it against the cover typography (as in David Nicholls’ Us) or make the silhouette itself exceedingly arresting (as in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.)

For Galloway’s Justice, it was important to convey a mysterious tone and the idea of a missing girl. I chose to create an empty silhouette shape on top of a photograph to portray a missing piece. I wanted the use of integrated photography, lettering, and illustration to make a compelling design. I try to create a cover that can sit within its genre while being striking and unique. — Jeffrey Nguyen on designing Galloway's Justice.

4. A collage is worth a thousand words.

Cover designs by (from left to right): Raúl Lázaro, Christos Kourtoglou, Oliver Munday.

Photo collages are an exciting trend in the world of cover design. Given the recent innovations in photomanipulation, they offer a vast sandbox of possibilities to designers. As you can see, photo collages give the cover a bit of a modern look. In a bit of a twist, you might see this technique adorning the covers of classics — giving books such as Charles Baudelaire’s Las Flores del Mal a very contemporary interpretation.

5. Hand-drawn covers add a personal touch.

Cover designs by (from left to right): Harriet Russell, Aled Lewis, Andreas Preis.

We’re suckers for originality, which is one area that hand-illustrated covers certainly have covered. From the softness of the illustration for Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park to the gorgeously intricate cover of Runemarks, hand-drawn covers are so versatile that they’re present in pretty much every genre. Not to mention the way they allow designers to add that extra special touch! Where else can you find a cover upon which the “Y” is the wine glass that Gatsby delicately holds?

Typography-focused book covers 6. When typography met imagery...

Cover designs by (from left to right): Christopher Brand, Matt Vee, Jennifer Carrow.

Let’s start off with a bang: there’s no better illustration (!) of how powerful typography can be than a cover that turns its typography into an image unto itself.

A book's cover is your secret weapon when it comes to sales. Find #design inspiration here!
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Take the cover of Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs, for instance: it does a brilliant job of conveying the book’s message in only a few strokes. You’ll notice that the o’s in the title end up creating the “small bombs” that are at the heart of this book. As LitHub points out: “While we expect explosions to create chaos, the impact of the bomb in this composition is very organized and evocative of networks. It is a timely interpretation of violence.”

7. Sometimes, the bigger and bolder, the better.

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Jon Gray, Thomas Walker, Jon Gray, Neil Fujita, Mirandi Babitz, Adly Elewa.

Big, bold typography on covers is another trend in recent years, and it’s not terribly hard to see why. This kind of typography shouts: “This is a book that you want to pick up.” That, or: “Here… we… go!” Like elephants in the room, these covers demand attention.

Expect to see this sort of typography splashed into the midst of bright colors, as subtlety isn’t exactly the game here. You’ll frequently find it paired with books with emphatic titles, too — such as Eve Babitz’s Sex and Rage or Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am. Also: if it’s executed well, there’s a chance that the type can gain iconic status. (See: the typography for The Godfather, which became an instant classic on its release).

8. Simple typography shines a light on the illustration.

Cover designs by (from left to right): Erin Fitzsimmons, Terry and Eric Fan, Kathleen Lynch.

Let’s go now to the opposite end of the spectrum. Simple and understated typography is actually used with a lot of purpose on book covers — it elegantly balances the elements to best highlight the illustration. Great designers aren’t afraid to let the typography be restrained so that the illustration can take the center stage. Because of that, the end effect is stunning: covers of this kind allow the (often) jaw-dropping artwork to really grip the reader's imagination.

Make Way for Her was a book in the New Poetry and Prose series from the University of Kentucky Press. The design went in several directions before we ended up with the final: initially, the look was illustrative and abstract; then it switched to edgy and photographic. In both instances, I kept the typography clean and simple. It allowed me to integrate it with the elements of the artwork, adding to the depth of feeling of young women searching for themselves and making their way, and letting the illustration shine. — Kathleen Lynch on designing Make Way For Her. 

8. Type can create visual magic.

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Scot Bendall, Janet Hansen, Oliver Munday, Timothy Goodman.

Fun fact: not all magicians wield wands. Oh, you want proof? Take this set of covers, otherwise known as Exhibit A: Typography as Magic. Did the visual dynamism of Baci’s The Water Knife make you do a double-take? Don’t the extra letters on Rebecca Schiff’s The Bed Moved escape your notice — until you realize that they exist to perfectly mirror the title itself? They’re so mesmerizing that they almost make you want to reach out and open the book (which is, of course, the designer’s goal).

“To minimize the themes of the book, I used a grid of boxes to write them down: playful, funny, young, chaotic, sexual, edgy, personal, feminine, and smart. I pinned this sheet of words up and stared at it for a few days before starting, and I tried to approach the design by only thinking about these themes.” — Janet Hansen on designing The Bed Moved.

9. Hand-lettered titles keep things real.

Cover designs by (from left to right, top to bottom): Jim Tierney, Adly Elewa, Rodrigo Corral, Leanne Shapton, Adly Elewa, Leo Nickolls.

You know that feeling you get when a friend writes to you by hand? That’s the idea behind hand-lettered titles, which are currently trending in cover design. Hand-drawn titles radiate a sense of warmth, sincerity, and personality. Don’t be shocked to discover that this kind of typography works best with quirky or uber-original books that showcase a bundle of personality! Case in point: it’s pretty popular in Young Adult fiction right now, with one example being John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Get inspired: browse 68 cherry-picked #bookcovers that ace current trends in cover design.
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10. Type that interacts with the design becomes immersive.

Cover designs by (from left to right): Jaya Miceli, Tyler Comrie, Jaya Miceli.

Placement is the key to this kind of typography, which allows the title to be a direct part of the design. Sometimes this might mean that it’s is obscured by the cover design, as in Brett Reetz’s Swimmer. Other times, it means that the title is an extension of the scenery. Look at the cover for The Girl on the Train, for instance: its combined elements create a sense of motion — replicating the point-of-view of the title character, peering out the window as the scenery races by.

Suspense and mystery books use this technique to great effect. By giving you only a glimpse of the whole scene, the designer makes readers wonder where the rest of the picture might just take them. And you can bet that it won’t be Kansas.

Genre-specific covers 11. Fantasy covers show off (or strongly imply) the fantastical.

Cover designs by: Joel Tippie (top), Richard Augustus (bottom left), Marc Simonetti (bottom right).

Fantasy covers often fall into two categories: the abstract or the extremely realistic. The latter sort is terrific at setting the mood, while realistic covers show readers exactly what they’re going to get. (Though it’s worth noting that recently the trend has moved away from the hyper-realistic.)

"Fantasy covers fall 2 two categories: the abstract or the extremely realistic." More tips here!"
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If you’re writing a fantasy series, your author brand is going to be a key consideration. The font you use for the cover, the style of artwork: these are all things that will make your series (and your name) immediately recognizable to the..

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This is a guest post by Jessica Ruscello, a copywriter at Blurb, Inc. Jessica is also a writer, teacher, and photographer who makes her mark with empty coffee cups, ink spills, and red lipstick. She’s passionate about creativity, people, and the written word. She believes anything worth doing is worth doing beautifully. When not chasing the perfect sentence, she’s stalking Bay Area beauty camera in-hand, amazed and grateful that she gets to call San Francisco her home.

The last ten years—even the last five—have seen game-changing developments in printing technology. Even if print-on-demand has been around longer than that, we’re now seeing these digital machines produce exquisite quality. Advanced inkjet technology now creates pages and covers that are nearly identical to those created with traditional offset printing, offering incredible advantages to self-publishers.

How can you make sure you're getting the most return out of it? Let's find out.

How does Print-On-Demand (POD) work?
  • You choose your format. From coffee-table books to magazines to trade paperbacks, print-on-demand is compatible with any format you’d find in a bookstore. The more copies you order, the more cost-effective customization becomes (higher volume order makes it possible to try different endsheets, ribbon markers, or cover styles). That said, standard commercial sizes and papers are readily available across printers.
  • You create a properly formatted book file. Your PDF or other print-ready file will stay on hand with the printer and can be called up any time an order is placed for your book.
  • You list your book on major bookselling sites. You can do this using a “print-on-demand distributor” like KDP Print (for Amazon), IngramSpark, or Blurb.
  • Every time someone orders your book, the order is sent to the printer. Digital printers print and assemble your book all in one place.
  • The book is shipped to the retailer, who forwards it to your reader. In some cases, the customer will be able to get the print book in under one hour!
  • Your reader pays the retailer. Your retailer will then send the net revenue to you (after deducting printing costs and retailer discounts—read more about these below).
Print-On-Demand technology: what you need to know

Books that are printed on-demand are still created by “presses,” but this term is misleading because there are no plates in digital printing that are “pressed” to paper. Digital printing is derived from the Xerox technology developed in the 1950s, which relies on a laser imaging system for transferring image data to the paper. Early digital printing systems suffered from lower resolution (300 dpi or less), fewer colors, and slower machines, but the last 15 years has seen a revolution in equipment—more pages per minute, more colors, and up to 2400 dpi.

The variation in digital printing depends on three things: how the ink hits the paper, what type of ink hits the paper, and what kind of paper you use. For your book, you may not need to know the technical function of particular printers or ink deposit chemistry. However, here are some things you do need to keep in mind as you select your digital printing process.

Did you know? Digital printing is derived from Xerox technology developed in the 1950s #selfpub
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Inkjet or toner printing

An inkjet printer and a toner-based printer put ink on the paper differently. With inkjet printers, you’ll likely get more vibrant colors and finer resolution for images. With toner-based printers, like copy machines, you might get richer blacks and sharper edges, which suits books that have many pages, lots of type, and aren’t so concerned with resolution. As inkjet technology improves, toner printers are being used less. A printing company may not spell out the exact type of printer they use, but they may offer differences in color or black and white at different price points and quality, and this is partly why.

Type of ink

Different machines are compatible with different types of ink. Some machines use an ink that’s dry, some use wet ink. Meanwhile, some inks are water resistant or fade resistant; some inks break down more easily than others. All of the above affects resolution and sharpness. If you’re making a children’s book that will be handled a lot, you’ll want to check for ink durability. If you’re making a photo book, you’ll want rich colors and precision. If your book is mostly type, you’ll have fewer concerns and can economize, but you’re looking for deep blacks and crisp lines.

Paper type

Different inks look different on different papers, and paper type often has the highest impact on the base price of your book. Uncoated paper is less expensive, but has a rougher texture and is more absorbent, so colors don’t have the vibrancy of coated papers. Coated papers keep more ink on the surface and reflect the colors back to you. Papers with different coatings can create dramatically different looks even if they were created on the same press.

The advantages of Print-On-Demand It’s less expensive up front

For self-publishers, getting your work into the world used to mean printing 1,000 copies—and an expensive proofing copy. If there were errors, you’d pay again to have another proofing copy sent. These proofs alone could cost anywhere between $100-$500—and then there’s the cost of printing thousands of copies of your book, which can outpace a down payment on a Ford Focus! For print-on-demand, your only upfront cost is the price of one copy of your book, which could be as low as $10. You’ll see the book in full, and you can do several rounds of proofing for a big order, all for the same price of one round offset.

It’s fast

Digitally printed books are created in the same facility, without having to ship blocks and covers to different sites for assembly. Not to mention, commercial digital printing machines in themselves are incredibly fast, and getting faster. This means even larger orders can be done and in-hand in as fast as a few weeks, not a few months.

What are the advantages of print-on-demand printing? #selfpub tips
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Storage and fulfillment handled by someone else

Print-on-demand eliminates that problem of thousands of books in the basement that you’ll need to address and ship yourself. Books are shipped by the printer or the retailer directly to your customer, without effort from you.

Niche books stay in print longer

Digital printing allows for smaller runs, which means books that don’t sell to a wide audience can still come into being, without printers suffering major losses. Small-run titles can stick around more.

No pulping waste books

This is better for the self-publisher, the printer, and the environment. Books are printed as they’re ordered, so there is no waste.

Print-On-Demand distribution

Printers like Ingram have relationships with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Blurb’s Trade Books are printed and distributed with the help of Ingram.) Amazon commands almost a third of print book sales, so listing your book there comes with its own advantages and even credibility. You don’t have to convince customers to go to these sites, and once they do, getting your book into their hands is pretty simple.

Distribution through these sites doesn’t come free, however. Both Amazon (and localized Amazon sites) and Ingram (for trade books, which also reach Amazon and Bn.com) charge distribution fees and do their own markup, referred to as a “Wholesale Discount.” The “discount” is the markup amount distributors add to your book. It’s usually a percentage of your retail price and any fee.

Distribution of your book isn't free, so what are your best options? #selfpub tips
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Ex. 1: Children’s Book

Photo books are a format type that have the richest color printing, so they are often used for Children’s Books. A Standard Landscape Photo Book through Blurb with a hardcover ImageWrap and 30 pages will cost $41.99 to print, and Amazon’s fees for that book are $1.35 + 15% of the retail price. If your markup is $5.00, that photo book would be $55.38 on Amazon.

$41.99 print cost + $5.00 profit +$1.35 distribution fee +15% Wholesale Markup = $55.38 Retail Price

Ex. 2: Hardcover Novel or Trade Non-Fiction

Trade books are a format type that lend itself well to selling, so they are often used for novels and poetry books. A 6x9 in. Trade Book with a hardcover ImageWrap and 350 pages will cost $16.25 to print through Blurb, and Ingram’s fees for that book are about 36% of the retail price. If your markup is $5.00, that trade book would be $28.90 per copy in the Ingram Catalog for book retailers.

$16.25 print cost + $5.00 profit +36% Wholesale Markup = $28.90 Retail Price

Print-On-Demand vs Offset Printing

Offset printing is older technology that uses plates which transfer an image onto a rubber "blanket.” Afterward, that image is transferred onto a sheet of paper. It's called “offset” because the ink is not transferred directly onto the paper, but the plates first.

So many variables affect the cost of an offset order (such as customizations and overseas printing), it’s difficult to compare POD and offset for the same book. However, it’s possible to reduce your per-copy cost by as much as 40% by printing offset. There are also more opportunities to design and shape the book in specialty ways. As we'll see below, this older printing method has its own advantages, especially for larger orders.

Offset printing uses plates to transfer images. Find out more in this post
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Lower cost per copy, higher cost at the outset

Printing offset means ordering at least 1,000 copies of your book. But this way of printing, especially with an overseas printer, is hands-down the lowest possible cost-per-copy. You just have to finance a large order. Without negotiating warehousing and fulfillment with your distributor, these tasks are also up to you. Printing offset means the highest possible margin, but you also bear the largest burdens for up-front cost and distribution.

Setup fees

Printing offset follows the older printing methods of page creation, cover creation, and assembly. Your printing plates will need to be custom-created, so the creation and setup of plates gets factored into your proof copy.

More customization

Because the plates, trimming, covers, and even materials are individually set-up, these large orders make it more cost-effective to make your project look and feel exactly as you like, since the setup fees have already been costed out. This means more possibilities for specialty trim sizes, paper types, and cover types. Cost effectiveness (and therefore feasibility) for customizations increases as orders exceed 1,000 copies.

Brick-and-mortar consignment retail possibility

Self-published books come with their own challenges when contending for shelf space, but an offset order creates enough inventory for stocking local establishments. You might not be able to get on the shelves of national chain brick-and-mortar stores, but you can approach local bookshops or other relevant stores to carry your book on consignment (for a portion of your sales).

Possibility for in-person and event sales

Offset orders yield the inventory to follow up speaking engagements or events with a printed-take home piece for your audience, and a built-in bookselling opportunity for you.

Control over distribution

If you’d like more options to manage your own distribution, or if you would like to offer signed copies and do your own fulfillment, on offset order puts you in charge and stocks you up.

The offset difference

People enjoy the customization possible with offset, but what’s really compelling about an offset order is the effect it has on the cost per copy. You can estimate the single copy price through Blurb with your paper type, page count, and cover type with the pricing calculator. Any actual order would require a talk with Client Services about the specifics of a project.

Take a look at the effect of ordering offset on the two projects we listed above:

Children’s Book


100+ Client Services Pricing - $19.50/copy (Not including taxes of shipping)
1000 Copies Offset Printing - $10.00/copy (Includes approximate shipping to US)*

*digital printing - 4 weeks with proofing; offset printing 12-13 weeks to delivery

Novel or Non-Fiction Trade Book


100+ Client Services Pricing - $16.00/copy (Not including taxes of shipping)
1000 Copies Offset Printing - $7.50 /copy (Includes approximate shipping to US)

Don’t overlook offset printing because of the large upfront costs, and don’t overlook print-on-demand, which offers greater speed, quality, and innovation than what has been available at any other time in print history. Whichever one's better for your project, there's no doubt that print-on-demand has done so many exciting things for book-makers, creating more options for beautiful end products.

Have you tried offset printing on one of your books? What has been your experience with print-on-demand so far? Leave your thoughts (as well as any questions for Jessica) in the comments below.

The post Comparing Print-On-Demand vs Offset Printing (Pros & Cons) appeared first on The Reedsy Blog.

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