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I used to think that a copyright page didn’t really need cataloging-in-publication (CIP) data in order to be complete. But I was wrong.

But wait—what is CIP data? It’s the block of information on a book’s copyright page that resembles a library catalog entry, like the one shown here. If the Library of Congress created it, it’s called CIP data. If a private cataloging service created it, it’s called PCIP (Publisher’s CIP) data. Since they look basically the same on the page, I’ll simply refer to both as CIP data for our purposes.

Back in the old days, the Library of Congress (LC) provided CIP data for any book that was submitted to them. And the Library and Archives Canada did the same before 2016. But now that about 15,000 new items are sent to the LC every day, they’ve limited their cataloging services generally to publishers that produce 5+ titles a year. For the rest of us, including all self-publishers, the LC now provides a Preassigned Control Number (PCN), which on the copyright page looks something like this:

Library of Congress Control Number 2019123456

The PCN is quick and easy to obtain online, and a boon to any self-publisher. It’s free, and it’s official. The number is not related to any cataloging data, but simply serves as a placeholder for possible future LC cataloging.

(By the way, the LC is about to streamline its PCN and CIP programs into a new, unified system. It should be online in spring of 2019. Look for updates at the PrePub Book Link).

But, alas, it’s not enough for many of us. And here’s why.

Most libraries these days are strapped for funds. Even if they can afford to buy books, they may not have enough librarians to catalog them before shelving them.

Information sharing

Librarians love to share—books, movies, magazines, music, musical instruments (have you tried any lately?), household tools (yes, in some places), research materials, and especially information. And that includes what they consider to be the most important piece of information found on copyright pages: the cataloging data.

If you want your book in libraries, we suggest you spend the extra time and money to get CIP data onto your copyright page. https://bit.ly/2XRQsKt
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With CIP data on the copyright page, all the librarian has to do is copy it into their computer, and then the book can go right onto the shelf. But if they don’t see any data, and they can’t find it online (see below), they must create it themselves, and that can take days, weeks, or even months.

Here’s what a MarcEditor screen looks like. You can see why some training is needed!

When a librarian creates CIP data for a book, he or she (with the proper training) can simultaneously enter the info using a format called MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) records. The entry for each book includes the title, author(s), description, and subject categories. It also includes call numbers in both Dewey Decimal format and LC format so the book can be shelved in its proper place in practically any library. This is information sharing at its best. For a short tutorial on the importance—or not—of MARC records for your book, read this article from Linda Carlson of IBPA.

The nonprofit called OCLC is one place where librarians can find this data. It’s a global library cooperative that shares information, research, and cataloging. However, it requires membership, and not all libraries have the means to join.

Other groups with similar missions exist, too. Sky River, for instance, is doing the same kind of work.

So what’s the point for you?

Here it is: We suggest that you spend the money and a bit of extra time to get PCIP data onto your book’s copyright page if you want your book in libraries. It will reduce the time it takes to place it on the shelves, and make a lot of librarians happy, too.

How to obtain CIP data

Private providers can create PCIP data for you. Some of them include MARC records and some do not, so if this is important to you, inquire ahead of time. Here’s a list:

Be sure to research each group. What you’re looking for is a reputable firm with professional catalogers who have experience in preparing PCIP data (and MARC records if that’s important to you).

Unfortunately, we were not able to find any providers in Canada. But if you are one or know of one, please get in touch.

* * *

Many thanks to Pat McCurdy-Crescimanno of the The Donohue Group for presenting this information at the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) 2018 conference and for consulting with us on this article.

Read more: Your copyright page: everything you need to know » explains the entire copyright page and provides an easy-to-use Word template.
Read more: Finding your book subject categories » will do the same in book stores that CIP data does in libraries.

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

The post Your book needs CIP data—here’s why appeared first on Book Design Made Simple.

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What the heck is a text variable, anyway? It’s copy that you can add anywhere in your document—but it varies depending on the context. For instance, you could set up your document to automatically insert the current date in a header. Or if you need to send readers to the last page, a text variable will automatically update the page number reference if you add or delete pages later.

Now think how useful text variables could be as navigational tools (i.e., running heads) in a nonfiction book. They can make the current chapter number and chapter title appear—presto!—on verso pages and the most recent internal heading appear on recto pages. And that’s exactly what I’m going to demonstrate in this article. Adobe’s official user guide instructions on the topic of text variables are a bit sketchy, so I’ve developed a detailed lesson for you.

In chapter 52 of Book Design Made Simple, we explain how to create a separate master page for each chapter in your book. But with text variables, you can use A-Master for all your chapters instead, as demonstrated below. It’s simpler and less cumbersome.

This lesson covers the following topics:

How to create text variables

Before working with text variables, set up your book’s paragraph and character styles. They don’t have to be final; for now, at least assign a style name to each element. (You may change the styles later on.) Once you’ve done that, you can define (create) the text variables, which means to set up what you want the variable to say. We’ve developed a sample book to use for this exercise. Below you can see what a chapter opening page looks like, with our paragraph style names labels in red.

Chapter number text variable

To define the chapter number as a text variable to use in your verso running head, do the following:

  1. Put your cursor in any chapter number.
  2. Go to Type > Text Variable > Define.
  3. Select New.
  4. Use the settings shown below. The “Type” category indicates the way you are going to use the text variable, not the kind of copy that it is now—so select Running Header (Paragraph Style). You can add text before or after the number in your running heads; for instance you might want to add “Chapter.”

    The categories can be confusing, so here’s what they mean: Name: Call this text variable anything you like. We used “cn” because it’s our paragraph style name for chapter numbers. Type: Select the future use of the variable; in this case we’re going to use it in the running heads. Style: Select the name of your paragraph style for chapter numbers from the drop-down list. Use: Ignore this for now. Text Before and Text After: Add anything you like here, such as “Chapter” (plus one word space) before the number. Your addition will appear in the Preview box now and in your running head later on. Options: These are pretty obvious.

  5. Click OK.
Chapter title text variable

Next you’ll define the chapter title text variable for use in verso running heads just after the chapter number.

  1. Put your cursor in any chapter title.
  2. Go to Type > Text Variable > Define.
  3. Select New.
  4. Use the settings shown below. In this example we decided to add 3/4 of an em space between the chapter number and the chapter title. Because this equals an en space plus a quarter space, the final result in the Text Before field becomes ^>^4.

    The Text Before field shows an en space and a quarter space, which were chosen from the drop-down list to the right of the field.

  5. Click OK.
Internal heading text variable

Now you want to make your recto running heads show the latest internal heading of the current spread. In our sample book we call these h1 heads, shown below. (Notice that there are no running heads on the pages yet.)

Define the text variable the same way as for chapter numbers and chapter titles. In the Use field, select Last on Page in order to make the head read “Dozing Off” and not “Down, Down, Down.” See below:

By the way, if there’s no heading on the next spread(s), the running head will continue to read “Dozing Off” until a new heading appears.

How to apply your text variables

Now that you’ve defined your text variables, you’ll be eager to try them out in your running heads. First make the text frame for the running heads on your Master pages, and paragraph styles for them. Then put the cursor in each text frame and insert the text variables by going to Type > Text Variables > Insert Variable, and choose the one you created a moment ago. If you’re using two in the same running head, as in our example, keep your cursor in place and complete the step a second time. Here’s approximately what your running head text frames should look like on your master pages:

On the verso page you can see two text variables with the 3/4 space between them.

And this is the result on a random text page, in this case in Chapter 3:

If the copy in a chapter title or an internal heading (h1) is too long to fit in the running head text frame, the result will look something like this:

Oops—you’ll have to take out some words to make it fit on one line. With your cursor, delete the text variable on the relevant page(s) and then type in your shortened running head. (In case you’ve forgotten, you can select a glued-in-place master page item by holding down Shift+Ctrl/Cmd while clicking with the Selection tool or the cursor.)

Other uses for text variables

Text variables can automate any of your copy that changes according to context. Think of your running heads in #nonfiction, for instance. https://tinyurl.com/y8tutxxy
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You can use text variables to refer to chapter numbers or titles throughout your text. And then if you change the number or title of a chapter at some point, the reference in the text will change, too.

You can use a text variable as a placeholder for any recurring copy, such as the title of a companion book that you’re still writing. (When you define the text variable, choose Custom Text in the Type field.) Then once you’ve finalized the companion book’s title, you simply change the custom text of the variable, and bingo—all references to it will be correct.

You can even use text variables to create your table of contents, but it will be complicated. We advocate using the InDesign automatic table of contents feature for that—see pages 240–244 of Book Design Made Simple for detailed instructions.

Before you start, though, you should probably review this video from InDesign Secrets. It shows even more uses for text variables but also cautions you about some limitations to this otherwise great feature.

Automatic page numbers

You could certainly insert automatic page numbers by using text variables. But InDesign has another feature just for this purpose, and it’s simpler to use:

  1. Put your cursor in the text frame you’ve made on one of your Master pages for your folio (page number).
  2. Go to Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number.

The letter A will appear in the folio text frame, assuming that you’re in your A Master Page. (B will appear on your B Master Page, etc.)

Here’s what Master Page A will look like after you select Current Page Number.

Repeat the procedure for the folio on the other master page in the spread.

And you’re done. All of your pages based on Master Page A will show the current page number. How easy was that?

* * *

I would like to thank Anne-Marie Concepcion of InDesign Secrets for pointing out this wonderful feature that has been a part of InDesign just about forever but that was new to me. As soon as I heard about it, I just had to find out more and share it with you.

Read more: Book running heads » will help you decide what copy to put in your running heads.
Read more: Front matter » lists what to include in the front of your book.
Read more: Back matter » suggests what to include in the back of your book.

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

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The InDesign Book feature provides a great way to combine smaller InDesign files into one larger Book file. It’s easy to use, and you’ll find our step-by-step guide to using the Book feature here. But, after using the InDesign Book feature for Book Design Made Simple and numerous other book projects, we’ve discovered that it’s not perfect—so forewarned is forearmed!

There are lots of things we love about the InDesign Book feature, but we’ve also discovered things along the way that didn’t work so well. Below we’ll tell you about the good, the bad, and the ugly—what worked and what didn’t—so that you can avoid the pitfalls we learned from.

The InDesign book feature is a great tool, but we learned about some pitfalls from experience. Don't make the same mistakes we did! https://bit.ly/2C2BzMB
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What’s GOOD about the InDesign Book feature?

We used the InDesign Book feature for Book Design Made Simple, creating a separate InDesign document for each of the ten sections of book. That made it so easy for us to work on different sections of the book at the same time.

By dividing your book into separate documents (chapters, parts, and so on), it means the file sizes are smaller. File sizes of books with lots of images can become so large that they slow down everything you do in InDesign. So having smaller file sizes is smart.

The InDesign Book feature lets you synchronize styles across all the documents in your Book file. This includes paragraph, character, object, and table styles. How great is that?!

You can also generate an automatic table of contents compiled from all the documents in your Book file.

And you can set up automatic page numbering, which means that if you add, delete, or move pages within any of the documents in your Book file, the InDesign Book feature will update all the numbering for you.

Read our earlier blog post, Using the Book feature in InDesign, for a step-by-step guide to creating a Book file and performing all the functions listed above.

What’s BAD about the InDesign Book feature?

We were very excited when InDesign announced the addition of live endnotes in their CC2018 update. InDesign users had waited a long time for that feature! We updated page 249 of Book Design Made Simple, Second Edition accordingly. There were some bugs to work out of the new feature, as always, but we soon realized that the InDesign Book feature does not support live endnotes.

InDesign creates a text file at the end of a document, which contains all the endnotes. So if you plan to list your endnotes at the end of each document in your Book file, then you are fine.

However, if you are using the InDesign Book feature, you won’t be able to generate a list of live endnotes to place in the back matter of your book. It’s not an option. And, if you plan to copy and paste the endnotes from each document into one long list in the back matter, that won’t work either, as all the reference numbers in the text will disappear. Aaaack!

What’s UGLY about the InDesign Book feature?

We discovered this issue the hard way, and that’s why it qualifies as UGLY. Here it is:

Hyperlinks are lost if any document name is changed.

Let’s say you plan to export your Book file as a PDF or an EPUB and you’ve added lots of hyperlinks. In our case, we added hyperlinks to the tables of contents in each section of the book, to every instance of “see page xx,” and to every entry in the index. Each hyperlink connected to another place within the documents in our Book file, not to external URLs, and there were thousands of them.

When we created our Second Edition, we used the same documents and Book file that we used for the First Edition. First we added “2nd-ed” and a new date to the file name, then proceeded to make all our updates and additions for the Second Edition.

We didn’t discover until it was too late that changing the file name had disconnected all the hyperlinks. Right away we tried renaming the Book file with the old file name, but that didn’t relink the hyperlinks. There is no “Relink Hyperlinks” feature similar to the one for relinking images. So we had to relink over 4,000 hyperlinks from scratch.

Don’t make the same mistake we did!

It’s still a great feature!

The InDesign Book feature still has a lot going for it. As you can see, as long as you use it for things that it does beautifully, you’ll be very pleased. Just be aware ahead of time that there are a few things it really can’t do.

Read more: Hyphenation and justification – make your text look fabulous! »
Read more: InDesign layers – how to use them with text and shapes »
And still more: Using InDesign color gradients »

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

The post InDesign Book feature: the good, the bad, and the ugly appeared first on Book Design Made Simple.

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Do you use a layout grid? A few months ago, I saw a survey on Twitter for designers. The one multiple choice question went something like this:

  1. I always use a layout grid.
  2. I sometimes use a layout grid.
  3. What’s a layout grid?

I had to laugh, but then I began thinking that some of our readers could benefit from learning about this topic.

Just to be clear, I’m not referring to a baseline grid here, but to a layout (or page or typographic) grid. Here are a few examples of blank book spreads with grids.

The grid lines shown here do not actually appear on the book pages. The InDesign user can see them, though, and use them as guides for laying out the page.

This rather long article is divided into the following sections. Feel free to follow your interests.

Reasons to use a layout grid

Grids have been around ever since the beginning of books, even handwritten ones. Think of a grid as an invisible frame that holds the letters neatly in place. Once movable type was invented in the West, the individual metal (or wood) letters needed to be held together on the press with a strong metal frame.

So grids give pages structure, but as you’ll soon see, they also give the designer license to get creative.

Verticals (columns) in a layout grid

The columns in your layout grid are indispensable, even if there’s only one of them. All of the margins hold the text in place like a frame and often make up the bulk of the white (or negative) space on the page. The amount of space between columns (column gutter) determines ease of reading, but also add to the white space. (Designers always think about negative space; it’s part of the fun of the job.)

Below you can see a firm column grid that allows different widths of text on the same spread. Notice how the white space is used to emphasize certain areas of text.

You can decide to use a grid that uses mainly verticals; this gives you almost total flexibility for illustration sizes. Or you can use one that includes horizontals also.

Horizontals in a layout grid

Add horizontal lines to your layout grid if you want a more controlled look. A grid with both verticals and horizontals is called a modular grid.

Any modular grid, like the one above, should use the baseline grid (shown in brown on the verso page) to assist in breaking up the vertical space into equal sections. In this case there are 6 vertical divisions with 7 lines of text in each. Images will be cropped to fill one or more modules. In addition, captions can be aligned to the grid, either below or to the side of images. To achieve a neat modular grid like this, you will probably have to fiddle with your leading and/or margins to achieve a line count per page that will divide evenly.

The only practical drawback to this kind of grid is that images must fit nicely in the modules. You might have to use some awkward cropping to make this happen, so if your images show original artworks, you could get into trouble. Museums and artists do not normally allow cropping of images without written permission.

Some examples of layout grids in real books

Here are some ways to use a layout grid. All of the examples below are from real books. Dark blue and red lines show the column(s) and other grid lines, all of which are of course invisible to the reader. Light green blocks represent images.

This is the grid we used in Book Design Made Simple. It is based on 4 columns, with 3 lumped together and used for text and 1 for captions—but with flexibility. (We demonstrate how to do this in a video and in our book, see Setting up a page layout with uneven columns.) Design by Fiona Raven.

This strict 2-column grid (above) in Res magazine (an art and anthropology journal) forces most images into the width of a single column. Horizontal grid lines here would be unworkable because most illustrations are of original artworks and cannot be cropped at random to fit inside such a grid. This 1981 design by Dan Flavin and Richard Bartlett worked wonderfully for 35 years.

The compound grid for Photography: The Whole Story (edited by Juliet Hacking) looks dizzying at first glance. But it’s actually very clever and allows all sorts and sizes of material to fit into the space. Notice, for instance, that the large upper left photo is 5 red columns wide and the caption for it is 1 blue column wide. Meanwhile, the main text uses 4 columns of the red grid. On the recto page, the upper right image uses the red grid while the lower ones use the blue. The 6-column area below the cyan horizontal guides is used on many spreads for a timeline marching across the bottom. Design by Quintessence. Please don’t try a layout grid like this on your first book!

The book above (Made for Walking by Julie Campoli) has a layout grid that is not based on equal column widths. The emphasis is on the height of the large photos at the top, which are equal throughout the book. Cyan horizontal guide lines are used on pages with the large photos, which sometimes bleed and sometimes do not, but which always stop at that upper guide. Design by Peter Blaiwas.

Using a layout grid in InDesign is a great way to create a dynamic book design. You'll have lots of options for combining text, captions, and images into an attractive layout. #indesign #bookdesign https://goo.gl/vhmyf8
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How to construct a layout grid in InDesign

Before you begin devising a grid for your design, you must consider the nature of the book you’re working on. Make a list of all the kinds of elements in the manuscript: sidebars, extracts, illustrations of all kinds, poetry, tables, various levels of headings, footnotes, etc. How complex is this book? Do you need multiple columns? Do you think you’re going to be squeezed for space? Will you have (or do you want) plenty of white space? Any problem solving you can do at this early stage will help you later on.

If you have any preconceived ideas about how you might like to design this book, now is the time to drop them! Please, please don’t try to squeeze a book into an unsuitable design just for the sake of expressing something that’s in your head. (After a decades-long career, I still have designs I’d like to use but have not found the right project to use them on!) The design must match the content of the book.

When you start a new file in InDesign, you are immediately asked to choose your trim size (usually dictated by practical matters such as standard trim sizes or conventions of your book’s genre), define the number of columns plus the space between them, and set your margins (the grid’s outer frame). Often it is difficult to come up with suitable values to put in the dialog boxes. If you have trouble, try one of these tricks:

  • Set all margins to 0, then add some text on a blank spread and manipulate the text frame until you find a shape and placement that you like. Then go back to File > Document Setup and add the values for the margins. You can always fine tune them later. (Highlight both master pages in the Pages panel, then go to Layout > Margins and Columns. This is fully explained in chapter 20 of Book Design Made Simple.)
  • Trim 2 pieces of paper to the trim size of your book and put them together like a 2-page spread. Sketch margins and text blocks with a pencil until you’re satisfied. Do some measuring, then start your new InDesign document.

Next, you can start placing guides to define your layout grid. In Book Design Made Simple, we show you one method to achieve a one-column main text block with a narrow side text block for captions, definitions, illustrations, etc. Read about this layout grid method here: Setting up a page layout with uneven columns.

Try out your margins and grid with some live material and experiment until you get something workable. Remember, you want your layout grid to be firm but flexible so that all the parts relate to the whole within a structure of your own design.

For further reading

Many, many words have been written on the topic of the golden section (or golden ratio or golden canon) and also layout grids. (In this article, I’ve ignored the golden dimensions for the sake of simplicity.) For more information, start with these three books:

Grid Systems by Kimberly Elam. Princeton Architectural Press, 2004. A thorough how-to guide to grid systems with helpful translucent overlays to help the reader envision the grids.

Layout Grid Calculator is an online tool to help you devise the perfect grid for your book’s trim size. One page covers multicolumn grids, another does modular grids, and a third calculates the golden ratio.

Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara, Second Edition. The Quarto Group, 2017. Innumerable examples of increasing complexity. Some emphasis given, as the title implies, to breaking the grid.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton, Second Edition. Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. A large section of this excellent book is devoted to the grid. The author breaks through the complexities and gets right to the point.

Read more: Baseline grid essentials for book design » explains why and how to use a baseline grid.
Read more: Basic principles of book design » reveals the three main ideas to keep in mind in just about all fields of design.

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

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A book is a wonderful thing! But of course it’s not much good unless people read it, and to make that happen, sometimes you need to go beyond social media and word of mouth. Printed book promotion materials can help you do that, so in this article we hope to help you find just the right combination of giveaways for your book.

One of the advantages of doing your own book design and typesetting is that you can also produce your own book promotion materials. To reduce the learning curve for you, InDesign Secrets offers free Adobe InDesign templates for all kinds of publications.

You probably don’t need all of the book promotion materials listed below. Read about your options, and then stick with a few of them. For purposes of illustration, we invented an author named Sonny Day with a book called Off the Deep End. Here are the book promotion materials you’ll find in this article:

Before you plunge into designing the separate products, think brand identity! Each and every item should match your book cover (or series covers) as much as possible. Use the same background pattern, images, colors, and typefaces. (If you purchased an image from a stock photo company, be sure your user agreement allows you to use it for this kind of material. You might have to pay more for increased rights.) When you’re finished, you should be able to take a picture of all your materials together and be proud of your matched set.

Speaking of brand identity, if your book is related to your business, be sure that they are promoting each other all the time. In other words, your book and business promotion materials should work for both. See our article “Use your book to build business” for more on this.

Remember that this is marketing material, most of it meant to be digested in seconds. Don’t include long reviews or long passages from your book; save those for your website (if you don’t have one yet, read up on creating one here).

#Authors, think #branding while creating your #book #promo materials. https://bit.ly/2OG8Xjx
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Book promotion bookmarks

A bookmark for a hypothetical book called Off the Deep End.

Bookmarks are probably the most common form of book promotion. Small and easy for you to keep on hand, they are readily accepted by just about anyone anywhere. The example to the right is printed on both sides, but you could leave the back blank.

What to include on your bookmark:

  • Book cover
  • A short headline to grab the viewer’s interest (a tag line)
  • Book title, subtitle, and author (if they are too small to be read at a glance on your mini cover)
  • ISBN
  • List price
  • Publisher
  • Your book’s website
  • A blurb or two
  • Where the book can be purchased. Since bookmarks will be picked up mostly by readers, restrict your vendor list to retail only, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and indie bookstores. Don’t list wholesalers (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, etc.) or distributors.
Book promotion business cards

Sonny Day’s author business card.

Everyone knows what a business card looks like. Does an author need one? Imagine these situations: You’re pitching your book to an agent or publisher. You’re at a publishing conference meeting new people. You’re offering your services as a speaker. You bump into a famous author.

What to include on your business card:

  • Your name
  • Book or series title
  • Book cover if it fits (optional)
  • Publisher
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Physical address (optional)
  • Web address
Book promotion postcards

A color postcard with black ink only on the back.

Who sends postcards these days? A few savvy marketers, that’s who. A postcard might capture more interest than an email, it lasts a lot longer, and it can double as a bookmark, too. Even if you don’t put a single one in the mail, postcards might work very well for you as handouts. Before designing a postcard, check the acceptable sizes for the US Postal Service and/or Canada Post. The example here is printed on both sides, but leave the back blank if you like.

What to include on your postcard:

  • Book cover
  • A strong tag line
  • Book title, subtitle, and author (if they are too small to be read at a glance on your mini cover)
  • ISBN
  • List price
  • Publisher
  • Your book’s website
  • Perhaps a blurb or two
  • A very short passage (for fiction)
  • A short list telling how the book will help the reader (for nonfiction)
  • Where the book can be purchased. If your postcards are meant for retailers and librarians, include wholesale as well as retail information.
  • Blank space for writing an address
Book promotion rack cards

4-by-9-inch rack card to be used at a trade show.

What is a rack card? It’s a 4″ wide × 9″ high two-sided card that will sit in a rack with other cards of the same size. (Picture the cards set out for tourists in a hotel lobby.) At a book fair or in an exhibit hall display you might be asked to supply rack cards for visitors to pick up. Because of the dimensions of the rack, other printed materials might not be accepted; check with the event organizer.

It’s well worth your time to word and design a rack card carefully for your intended audience. Write a headline that catches the viewer’s attention from a distance—sometimes only the top 1 inch of the card will be visible while it’s in the rack.

You have more space than on a postcard or bookmark, but don’t cram it with words. Use empty space to draw the reader in; fewer words are always more effective than more.

What to include on your rack card:

  • A punchy headline
  • Book cover
  • Title, subtitle, and author
  • ISBN
  • Copyright date (if it’s recent)
  • List price
  • Publisher (with logo)
  • Other titles in this series (if you have one)
  • Your book’s website
  • A blurb or two
  • A catchy passage (for fiction)
  • A list that details how the book will help the reader (for nonfiction)
  • Where the book can be purchased. If the audience is retailers and librarians, include wholesale as well as retail information
  • QR code that leads to your website (optional)
Book promotion sell sheets

A two-sided letter-sized sell sheet to be offered to booksellers and librarians.

A printed sell (or sales) sheet might seem outmoded these days, but consider producing a few anyway. It’s a consolidated version of all of the promotional information on your website and is meant to be handed to librarians, booksellers, and anyone who might invite you to speak at an event. You can include the sell sheet on your website by attaching it as a PDF.

The sell sheet is printed on unfolded 8.5″ × 11″ paper, usually on both sides.

What to include on your sell sheet:

  • Book cover (it can appear more than once)
  • Title, subtitle, and author
  • A different strong headline for each side
  • ISBN
  • LCCN
  • Copyright date
  • Number of pages
  • Any notable features such as bibliography, glossary, index, illustrated, etc.
  • List price
  • Publisher (with logo)
  • Other titles in this series (if you have one)
  • Your book’s website
  • Your contact information
  • Book synopsis
  • A catchy passage (for fiction)
  • A list that details how the book will help the reader (for nonfiction)
  • Images from the book if appropriate
  • Reviews
  • Wholesale information

You will find more about sell sheets by searching online for “book sell sheet.” Start with this article by Judith Briles (via The Book Designer).

Book promotion posters and retractable banners

A retractable banner on a stand.

These are for the author who gives presentations or who appears at fairs or book shows. Before designing anything, read all the rules for the event and consider the amount of space you will have at your booth, or how much time you will have as a presenter. (Don’t have a huge banner printed for yourself if you’re going to be sharing the stage with others.)

Make the type big enough! Fill the space! Ask for advice from your printer, as this is the most common mistake made by beginners. Make sure there’s enough contrast between the background color and the type. Posters and banners need to be visible from a great distance; but if they will hang from the edge of a table, don’t put anything important down next to the ground. Coming up with a poster or banner design that will fit all occasions is not easy.

Ask your printer about indoor/outdoor materials that you can use in any location.

What to include on a poster or banner: This depends on your audience and your message, which should be whittled down to the bare bones. It also depends on how much space you have. So include some, but not all, of the following:

  • Your book title, plus author name and book cover (if they fit)
  • Snappy promotional headline
  • Publisher
  • Book list price
  • A QR code that links to your website (optional)

Two possible posters for the author and the book.

Bags and mugs are two of the many items you could give away to promote your book—if your budget allows.

Book promotion pens, sticky notes, and other gifts

At your book launch or at other venues you might want to hand out more valuable gifts such as pens, sticky notes, mugs, tee shirts, or other items as appropriate.

We suggest going to a promotional gift supplier and using their templates to fit your copy in the designated space. Keep your design(s) as simple as possible for the highest impact.

What to include on promotion gifts: Author name? Book title? Series title? Protagonist’s name? A short, catchy phrase? Publisher name and logo? Website? This is up to you.

Printers for all of the above

We suggest that you try local printers first. They are usually friendly, accommodating, and pleased to begin a working relationship with you. If there’s nobody in your area, try the online printers listed below. Compare the following: available trim sizes, available quantities, how many colors can be printed on each side, printing and shipping costs, and speed of delivery. Read online reviews, too.

Look for templates and/or guidelines for the various products. Information can include bleed amounts, margins, color range, and type sizes.

Note that we are not promoting any of the companies below, as we have not worked with all of them.

We wish you the best of luck with your book promotion materials and hope that they help you sell lots of books!

We’ve published lots of articles about book marketing. You might want to check out the following:

Read more: Your author website 101 » explains why and how.
Read more: Our book sales: three years in » comments on all the book marketing approaches we have tried.
Read more: Use your book to build business » urges you to think creatively beyond book sales to building an empire.

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

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Three years ago this month, the first edition of Book Design Made Simple rolled off the press. We expected book sales to start strong and increase immediately, but that didn’t happen. In this article we share with you our successes and failures, how plans can go awry, and about winging it. We hope you can skip some of the book marketing mistakes we made and go straight to success with your book as a self-published author.

We won’t bore you with every detail, but here’s a more or less chronological description of our book sales story.

First, a professional product contributes to book sales

This is an absolute must for everyone (and is exactly what our book is all about). Fiona designed the book and the cover, and then we both worked continually to perfect the layout of each page, of course. But also we hired a copy editor, a proofreader, and an indexer to increase our accuracy and impact. We labored long and hard on our copyright page. We paid for the best paper and offset printing we could afford. The result is that our book can compete with books from major publishers.

A website with credibility adds to book sales

Fiona set up our site. Then we purchased a template to help us with something we knew nothing about: how to produce a professional media kit. We closely followed their example and you can see the result on our Media pages. This gave us lots of confidence—something every new book marketer needs. At the very least, nobody is going to be turned off from buying our book because of a shoddy website.

A book launch may not generate immediate book sales

The official launch was going to be a huge deal for us. We planned and practiced for weeks. Glenna flew 3000 miles to Vancouver for it. The Vancouver Public Library (VPL) printed posters and put notices in the newspaper, online, and all over the library. We brought boxes of books for people to purchase. And then only a dozen people attended, and we sold no books at all.

Highlights from our book launch at the VPL.

Some workshops boost book sales, some do not

Fiona developed a workshop on ebook cover design that the VPL librarians could present to their patrons in the future, and she premiered the workshop in person during the book launch weekend. It was a huge success and continues to be taught periodically at the VPL. We hope some attendees have bought copies of the book because all five of the library’s copies are in use almost all of the time. So working up that presentation was definitely worth the extra effort.

Glenna has presented several programs and participated in workshops on book design since then. Each one has been sparsely attended and has resulted in exactly one book sale, total. This approach has not worked, probably because of the specialized topic, which doesn’t seem to attract adoring crowds. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for you and your topic, though.

Blogging is good for book sales

If you’re reading this, you know that we write about book design, Adobe InDesign, and publishing—and we enjoy it because we still have plenty to say beyond what’s in the book. Gradually our subscriber list has grown to more than 600 readers, some of whom write in with questions and comments. We think of the blog as indirect marketing.

Book reviews add to book sales

There are basically three kinds of book reviews: solicited reviews to put on your website and in your book, Amazon (or other online) reviews, and editorial reviews. We have all three.

  1. Before going to press, we requested reviews and blurbs from people in publishing, and then we printed them in the front pages of the book and posted them on our website. They build legitimacy for sure and have probably led to some sales in bookstores.
  2. Amazon reviews definitely lead to purchases. Luckily almost all of our reviewers have given us 5 stars. After the book came out we sent copies to two prominent bloggers and got outstanding online endorsements from both Joel Friedlander (The Book Designer) and Roger C. Parker of the Content Marketing Institute. We highly recommend this general approach for you.
  3. We held off on getting an editorial review for a couple of years, but then we learned that many librarians are not permitted to order books that do not have one. What is an editorial review? It’s one that’s written by a book review magazine or organization, such as Publishers Weekly or Kirkus. We purchased a Clarion review for Book Design Made Simple.
Print advertising does little for book sales

We tried a few print ads. Wouldn’t folks attending writing workshops be interested in self-publishing and book design? Of course, we thought, and put ads in writing conference catalogs and magazines. But no—apparently the writers were focused only on their writing. However, we do continue to advertise in the annual catalog of a local indie publishers group (IPNE.org) because its readers are our target audience.

We haven’t tried social media ads yet. It’s on the to-do list, and we suspect we should have started long ago.

Email campaigns increase both awareness and book sales

Email campaigns are a major part of our marketing scheme. Here’s what we’ve tried and discovered.

  • University libraries are the perfect place for Book Design Made Simple. We wrote to librarians at every school that offers a graphic design major in Canada and the U.S. We found out, though, that libraries normally order books only if a professor requests them, so we were wasting our time in approaching librarians directly.
  • After this discovery, we wrote to the professors, offering about 150 of them a free copy of the book if they would consider using it in the classroom. We were thrilled that 30 of them took us up on it, and we gleefully sent out the books. We now notice spikes in Amazon book sales at the beginning of fall or spring semesters in the geographic areas of some of these colleges. This is very gratifying. How do we know where the books are being sold? Amazon’s Author Central shows weekly retail sales totals and maps (example below).
  • Since universities usually hold copies of each required textbook in their collections, we are certain that our book is now on the library shelves of the schools that use our book.
  • Using a list we got from the Independent Book Publishers Association (see “Paid promotions” below), we also wrote to public librarians. We did notice a slight uptick in sales to Baker & Taylor and Ingram, but it was impossible to tell exactly which libraries were buying copies.

For each message we sent out, we waited a decent interval (1–2 weeks) before following up with a reminder. The subject line of any sales email is very, very important. We labored for days over each one.

So we have five bits of advice about email campaigns:

  1. Develop a well-aimed recipient list.
  2. Target your message directly at the reader’s needs (because this is not storytelling or literature—it’s advertising), and then shorten it, edit, and proofread numerous times.
  3. Devise a punchy email subject line. If you have a large enough recipient list, you can even come up with two contending subject lines and set up A/B testing in your email marketing program to see which one is more effective.
  4. Send an abbreviated followup message.
  5. Time your messages appropriately; for professors, for instance, do not wait until May, when they’re leaving for the summer and have already planned the entire next year. For public librarians, be aware that their fiscal year probably begins July 1; they might be out of funds by winter.

We know that we need to be very careful (and you do, too) to make it obvious that our message is commercial in nature. We do this in our email subject line. Plus we include an Unsubscribe button (and honor those requests immediately), and we include our physical address. These steps put us in compliance with CAN-SPAM guidelines and keep us out of trouble with the FTC in the U.S. and the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Library purchase requests work wonders for book sales

Though small in scale, our most successful method has been asking all of our friends to request our book at their local libraries. We’ve already detailed how you can work this scheme yourself.

Book awards are a dud for book sales, but . . .

In 2016 we won 2 regional and 3 national book awards. Naturally we were thrilled and have displayed the medals on our second edition cover and on our website. We expanded on the topic of book awards in a blog post, concluding that winning awards don’t increase sales immediately, though having official endorsements to show off probably does influence potential readers.

Does using social media increase book sales?

We have a Facebook page but we don’t add content as often as we should and it doesn’t see a lot of traffic. We use LinkedIn (individually) and Google+, where we contribute to relevant conversations and try to be voices of reason there. Several months ago we joined Twitter (@BookDesignBook), where we add content daily and retweet when appropriate. None of these methods directly result in sales, but we hope that all are alerting new people to our website and book, and adding to our reputation as experts in the field.

Videos lead directly to book sales

On a whim, we posted 25 instructional videos on our own YouTube channel, and some of them have become popular. We occasionally get messages from viewers that they’ve bought our book. If you have how-to content to share, simple videos might be just the way to reach your potential audience.

Paid promotions show mixed results

We’ve participated in a few promotions. Reluctant to part with our money, we’ve been very selective, trying the following:

  • The Independent Book Publisher Association (IBPA) displayed Book Design Made Simple along with other books at the American Library Association’s annual meeting one year. Our biggest benefit was receiving a list of visitors to the booth. We used this list of 1200 librarians to build our public library email campaign (see above).
  • New Shelves Books sends email promotions to thousands of librarians who have requested them. We participated in this recently. Because our book is especially suited to libraries and because only 23 other books were included with ours in the campaign, we thought it would be perfect for us. We needed to sell 20 books to break even on the deal. It’s impossible to tell which orders through Baker & Taylor and Ingram are the result of the campaign, but we estimate that we sold a disappointing 12 copies. Other indie authors have claimed better results, so don’t write off this tactic, but do explore your options before plunking down your cash.
  • Each year since 2015 we’ve paid to include our book with others published by members of the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) at the New England Library Association’s annual conference. The 3-day meeting is actually fun to attend, and of course we love librarians. They show a lot of interest in our book.
What we haven’t tried, but you might

There are still more ways to increase book sales, and we will pursue some of them as time permits. Here are a few for you to consider:

  • paying for Twitter and Facebook ads
  • guest blogging
  • appearing in college alumni(ae) publications or videos
  • joining associations whose members are your target audience
  • presenting at professional conferences
  • podcasting on your own or with a partner
  • book festivals
  • interviews on TV, radio, in the newspaper, podcasts, and/or online
  • in-person book readings

Book marketing can take up a lot of your time, but your book sales will depend on it. We’ve tried many methods, dropped some, and repeated others. We continue to use social media and our blog regularly, especially when we’re between big campaigns, so the effort is constantly on our minds.

Not every method is right for every author or every topic or genre, of course. Don’t make yourself miserable by going too far outside your comfort zone, or by trying to do too many things at once.

We hope that this article sparks some ideas that you can adapt to your book marketing plan.

What's YOUR book marketing plan? Learn from our 3-year history of hits and misses in #book sales. buff.ly/2x1ZXuR
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Just about all of our blog posts are aimed at helping you produce a professional product and then sell it. But here are a few specific suggestions for further reading:

Read more: Your copyright page » (includes a template you can use to complete the most accurate and professional copyright page possible)
Read more: Your author website 101 » (shows all the steps to setting up your own website and blog)
Read more: It’s YouTube time » (a humorous look at producing our own how-to videos)

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

The post Our book sales: Three years in appeared first on Book Design Made Simple.

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The term book arts encompasses an endless variety of books, usually handmade or produced in a limited edition. Included are all kinds of artists’ books, ezines, graphic novels, printed ephemera, and “other experimental forms of publication.” (Doesn’t that sound interesting?)

Search for “art book fair” and you’ll find that book arts are alive and well around the world. Here in Vancouver, Canada, our Vancouver Art Book Fair 2018 will be held from October 18 to 21 at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. This prompted me to share with you some of the books I’ve created as a book artist rather than as a book designer.

There is something wonderfully satisfying about creating a book by hand. As a book designer, I spend most days at the computer creating digital files for book covers and pages. But every now and then I get a hankering to create a book the old-fashioned way—by printing on handmade papers, illustrating with wood cuts or watercolors, and creating a binding by hand.

What is a book anyway? I think of a book simply as a cohesive package for a body of work … and that leaves the form of a book pretty open, right? It can be almost anything: loose sheets in a box, a roll or scroll of some kind, or any other collection grouped together in any way. A book doesn’t even have to include any words! Here are a few of my handmade limited edition books:


I’ve always been fascinated by hands and how interesting and beautiful they are. Hands consists of booklets encased in a clamshell box. Each booklet describes one person’s hands.

Each person’s booklet includes a relief print of their first initial, a black & white photograph of the backs of their hands, and a handprint of their palm. The palm print has a tissue overlay with explanations of what the lines signify. My grandfather was a palmist and I inherited his palmistry books. Aren’t hands fascinating?

Keep It Fresh

Keep It Fresh is about looking at familiar sights but seeing them with fresh eyes. The book is the same size and shape as a camera lens, and is housed in a lens case. The book is bound without using any glue or thread, but simply by folding and interlocking paper strips. Isn’t it poetic? I learned this interlocking method from a book by Claire van Vilet and Elizabeth Steiner called Woven & Interlocking Book Structures.

The Pact

The Pact is a miniature book (standard 3″ × 3″ size) made from handmade paper with accordion binding. The book stays closed with two elastic loops that hook around nails, and its title is embossed into the front cover. It’s about the tension between two parts of myself: the part that wants to work hard, be organized, and get things done … and the part that wants to daydream, play, and gaze at the sky.


My neighborhood is filled with beautiful neon signs, especially on Broadway. I love some of the letterforms, particularly on the older signs. The Ridge Theatre, a local landmark, was my inspiration for this miniature book. Its letter ‘R’ is used in the word Broadway. A small booklet at the back includes three short stories about the signs.

Explore book arts in your neighborhood

Aren’t book arts wonderful? Treat yourself to a visual feast at your local Book Arts Fair. You’ll find all kinds of creations there, including handmade books, limited edition books, handbound books, relief printing, and hand lettering. See just how many possibilities there are for creating “books”!

Read more: About the book artist, Fiona Raven »
Read more: Working with a book illustrator »

Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.

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Need an author website? Websites (including blogs) may be the most prevalent marketing medium these days, but the process of setting one up is still a complete mystery to most. When I teach self-publishing workshops and mention the necessity of having an author website, panic always ensues.

In this blog post, Fiona and I will explain what you need to know about author websites, how to set yours up, what costs to expect, and how to maintain it. After explaining all your options, we’ll also tell you exactly how we set up this website. Click here if you want to skip directly to that section.

Here’s what you’ll find in this rather long article:

Why you need an author website

Your website is your headquarters, a place where you can showcase your work, publish a blog, connect with others, and most importantly, build a following. This is your author platform.

A page on Facebook or other social media is not a substitute for an author website. That’s because the acceptable social media norms are always changing, and you have little control over who can see your pages. So you need your own site and an email list of subscribers. That way you can reach your followers easily and on your own terms.

If you’re reluctant to put up your own site, do it anyway. You could try to get away with a single web page, but your annual expenses will be the same whether you have one page or fifty.

Don't be intimidated by the very thought of setting up your #author website. You can do this! We explain the ins and outs. https://goo.gl/v7Gzzh
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The elements of an author website Your pages

If you insist on a one-page website, make sure you show the following:

  • Book title(s) and author’s name
  • Front cover(s)
  • Story synopsis, marketing copy, or your manifesto—whichever is most appropriate
  • A short author bio, preferably with a photo
  • ISBN(s)
  • Price(s)
  • How to order the book(s) (or a “Buy the book” button linking to an online book seller)
  • Your contact information
  • Links to your social media accounts

But readers expect something more sophisticated, with multiple pages. Take a look at your favorite authors’ or your competitors’ sites and list their best and most important elements—or explore the ones below:

You’ll soon see that they are all quite similar and include the following (in addition to the ones listed above for a single-page site):

  • Book reviews
  • A blog
  • An email signup form
  • A media kit (Look online for help with this.)
  • Links to other resources (for nonfiction books)
  • News (for authors with a lively appearance schedule)
  • A Contact page
  • A shop for your other book titles and/or related products or services, or
  • A Paypal page linked to your site
Your domain name

Now make it all more real by thinking of a good domain name (address) for your site. Maybe try your name first, e.g., JaneDoe.com. If that’s not available (you can do a quick search at GoDaddy.com), try a different extension (.net, for example). Or you can expand the name: JaneDoeAuthor.com. You’ll soon find a domain name that will work for you. You can register and pay for it when you choose a hosting company (see below).

How to set up an author website

Should you hire a website design service or do it yourself? Your choice will depend on your time, your budget, and whether you lean toward DIY or not. We’ll discuss both options below.

Some important menu sections

A preliminary plan for a cookbook website, showing the main menu and what might go on various pages.

Before plunging into design and setup, you need to sit down and organize your site. What material will go on your home page? What about your author bio page? Do you want a “Buy the book” button on every single page of the site? Are you going to divide your media kit into separate pages, with one for photos, one for book synopses, and another for author bios?

Analyze other authors’ sites and you’ll soon get the hang of it. After all, the process of writing your main menu and submenus is exactly the same as writing a book or story outline.

By doing this preliminary work, you’ll save yourself time and money.


A web log (blog) contains your experiences, observations, advice, and opinions. The blog section of your website is different from the pages in the main menu sections. The pages are static, remaining just the way you created them. Your blog posts, however, have a much more changeable presence on your website.

Blog posts appear on your blog page in reverse order, with your latest post appearing at the top. WordPress (see below) provides different ways for visitors to find blog topics that interest them. They can search by category, tags, author, or date published. Because blogs are very searchable and are updated every time a new post is added, they often get more traffic and rank higher in search engines than static pages do.

Your blog posts should include images (to attract readers’ eyes and keep their interest), external links (to other websites), and internal links (to pages within the site) when relevant. These links will help your website rank better in the search engines.

Email signup form

You’ll need an email signup form with a “Subscribe” button. We suggest using an email list service such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, both of which give you the signup form for your website and then keep your subscriber list as it grows.

The services are free up to a certain (large) number of subscribers. They’ll also help you set up attractive messages—like the ones we send every month. And they integrate with social media to make it super easy for new readers to find you. Just another way to add to your list!

Your blog is the best way to keep in touch with your followers. “What followers?” you may ask. To start out, send a personal email to everyone you already know, include a link to your blog page, ask them to subscribe, and bingo! You’ve got followers. If you make use of SEO in your blog posts (WordPress and Squarespace give you hints on this), more people will discover your blog, and then—you hope—subscribe to your email list. Your email list grows because of your blog and vice versa—it’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation.

Think about design

Of course you want your site to look terrific. Whether you’re hiring a designer or using a premade template, you should think about colors and typefaces.


Choose two or three colors from your book’s front cover or from your business logo. If you want a background color other than white, find one that contrasts with the color of your cover; after all, you don’t want the book cover to disappear into the background. Avoid using black or any other dark color for the background. A decade or so back, black was used a lot, but now that just looks dated, and it makes your copy harder to read.

Pick one “action” color. In other words, make any words or buttons that you want people to click on all the same color.

Leave plenty of white (or background color) space.


Keep a unified look throughout by using the same typefaces (one for headlines and another for text) at the same sizes and the same colors on every page. If you use a template, the typefaces will be chosen for you, with various colors and heading levels, and will probably look just fine.

Hire a web design service

If you choose to hire a website design service, you’ll find many out there just waiting for your call (or click). Some of them are dedicated to authors:

Or find another by doing an online search for “author website design.” Please look at their portfolios, read their testimonials, make sure they offer sites that are readable on all devices (especially mobile!), and compare prices and services before committing your money.

Do it yourself

You can do this yourself. There are so many ways! We suggest exploring a few of the suggestions below (but if you want to follow the route we took, read our step-by-step description below). Your options are listed generally from simplest at the top to more complicated at the bottom.

  • Squarespace offers templates, does its best to make it all very easy, and has customer service.
  • SiteBeginner.com teaches you all the steps for free.
  • Jimdo.com claims to get you started in just a few minutes.
  • A WordPress template is probably the most common way to go, but you’ll probably need help from a book or a class, and there is no customer service.
  • An online course may be enough. (Try lynda.com, which your public library might offer for free. If not, the Unlimited Access plan is currently $29.99/month with the first month free.)
  • A community education class on setting up a site might give you just the right amount of in-depth information.
  • A lynda.com course on setting up a Paypal page, and/or PayPal’s tech support—one or both will help.

Every single one of you should learn about search engine optimization (SEO), which will make your site visible to more people. There are lots of books on the topic, plus tutorials and courses on lynda.com. We also talk about it a bit in our recent article on using your book to build your business.

Author website maintenance

Don’t forget to keep your website up to date! Weekly, monthly or at least annually, get in there and change things up a bit.

  • If you haven’t already, start a blog and post articles regularly. The experts recommend doing it once a week, though at Book Design Made Simple we keep a monthly schedule.
  • Add news of your appearances, book awards, great reviews, famous authors you meet, and associations you join. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some photos.
  • If you’re especially active, include a calendar of future appearances.
  • Always keep your fans aware of any other books you’ve got in the works (but don’t promise anything you can’t deliver).
  • Announce special pricing for events such as anniversaries of your launch date, holidays, or special days relating to your topic (Black History Month or Valentines Day, for instance). And set up your Paypal page for the sale while you’re at it.
  • Update your site’s copyright date every January.
Expenses involved with an author website

Aside from any expense you may incur in setting up your site, you will also have to pay yearly fees for various elements. Some of the design-for-you and do-it-yourself services listed above include these services and fees. Either way, you need to know what it is you’re paying for:


Hosting is basically the server (computer) that stores your site and allows traffic in and out. Here are a few of the numerous providers:

The price range is about $80 to $250 USD per year and usually includes one email address. Once you see an acceptable price online, call and ask about your particular situation. These companies normally sell package deals that include a domain name and security—see below. You do need these things, so ask questions until you understand it all.

Domain name

You’ll need to pay someone—usually your hosting service—to safeguard your domain name for you. It can cost anywhere from $10 to $50 a year, depending on the deal you get when you register it. Don’t let your domain name expire. Someone could very easily take it and then sell it back to you at a higher price!


You should have an email address related to your website (e.g., info@JaneDoe.com) because it’s smart to keep your business and personal accounts separate, and it looks more professional. This is included in many hosting packages.


Your hosting company will offer you (or even insist on) some security for your site. It’s called “SSL” (Secure Socket Layer) or an “SSL certificate” and it basically means that traffic to and from your site will not be interfered with. More specifically, an SSL certificate

  • Includes encryption
  • Ensures that Google will not tag your site “Not Secure,” and therefore boosts your ranking
  • Makes your URL begin with https:// (instead of http://) so users can see at a glance that it’s a secure site
  • Protects purchasers’ credit card information, but this may cost extra
  • Might come with a warranty for $500,000 or more

If you’ve seen “SITE NOT SECURE” notices on some sites or if you’ve even been blocked from entering them, you can probably appreciate the necessity of paying for SSL. For more technical information on SSL, go to Steve’s Internet Guide.

There are a few levels of security available (technical info at DreamHost.com), so make sure you get the most appropriate kind. A lower level of security is probably fine if you’re not going to sell anything directly on your site. Discuss this with your customer service person. Prices range from $15 to $300 per year but may be included in your hosting package.

This may all sound very complicated, but don’t worry. WordPress and Squarespace packages include all the security you will probably need.

How we did it: A step-by-step guide

Now that you know about the parts and the options, we’ll reveal how we put this website together and what it cost.

  1.  We decided to go with WordPress for our website and blog. We used Rob Cubbon’s free tutorial, Set up WordPress and blog: A crash course in web publishing. It’s a real comfort to have all the steps explained as you go!
  2. We chose a design template that works for us. Free design templates are available, or you can purchase one at sites such as WordPress themes, Themeforest, and Themify, just to name a few. The options are dazzling! But try to picture your main image in the allotted space on the home page, and your material on the pages they offer. Take your time. This is an important decision. Our theme is called Lifestyle Pro Theme by Studiopress and it cost $99.95.
  3. We developed a media kit. We knew absolutely nothing about this at first, so we attended a webinar with Joan Stewart (The Publicity Hound) and then purchased a set of templates from Author Toolkits. We followed their advice to the letter. The result is a set of web pages full of information and author portraits for anyone who invites us to speak or who interviews or writes about us.
  4. We use Bluehost for hosting, at a cost of $160 for two years.
  5. Our domain name costs us $16/year and we have arranged to renew it automatically on a credit card so that we don’t forget.
  6. For security, we paid Kits Media a one-time fee of $125 to set up our SSL certificate (which changed our URL to https://www.BookDesignMadeSimple.com). Our website is very basic (without a shopping cart), so the SSL certificate alone fulfills the level of security we require.
  7. Paypal: We set up Paypal buttons on our Buy the Book page for book sales. We used the tutorials and FAQs on the Paypal site—not to mention the phone help. Linking to a Paypal page is a great way to sell books without having a shopping cart right on your site.
  8. Maintenance: We are always working to improve our site—Fiona has become an SEO geek! In addition, we write a blog post once a month, heeding all the hints that WordPress offers to improve search engine rankings (which often puts our blog on the first page when anyone does a search for our topic). As a result, we get more subscribers all the time.
  9. To boost our SEO even more, we signed up with Yoast, which offers plugins, courses, and a blog. This service costs $89 a year, and we think it’s worth the expense.
  10. We use Mailchimp to keep our email subscriber list for us. When it’s time to write to our followers, we use a template that we set up a while ago, add new copy, hit the Send button, and it goes out to everyone at once.
You can do this, too.

If, after reading all this, you decide you need start-to-finish help with setting up your site, don’t worry. There are many, many services out there.

New services for DIY types are springing up..

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Will you work with a book illustrator for your book cover and/or pages? If so, you probably have lots of questions! Where can you find a suitable book illustrator? How much should you expect one or more illustrations to cost? Will you own the copyright of the illustrations used in your book? What size, resolution, and format should the digital files be?

Here are answers to all those questions and more.

Finding the right book illustrator

You’ll be searching for a book illustrator who has the style and “look” you want for your book at a price that’s within your budget. It’s important that the artist’s illustrations are already in the style you want, as it’s almost impossible to have an artist create something that’s outside their style. For example, don’t hire a cartoonist to do an oil painting for your book cover, or hire a children’s book illustrator to create technical drawings. When choosing an illustrator, make sure that you already love their work and that their style will perfectly suit the subject of your book.

Where to search for a book illustrator

Here are some ideas for starting your search:

  • word of mouth—do you know anyone who can recommend a book illustrator to you?
  • ask for recommendations on self-publishing forums
  • do you belong to any publishing groups that can recommend someone?
  • if you admire the illustrations in a particular book, find the artist’s name in the credits and contact them via their blog or website
  • search for #illustrator on social media
  • search for “book illustrators” online to find illustrator websites or blogs displaying artwork portfolios

The following websites display portfolios of many illustrators’ work. You can search by subject, art style, art medium, location, and so on.

And, finally, there are lots of websites where you can post your project for free, and each site will usually provide you with dozens of bids. Here are just a few of those types of websites you can check out:

Book illustrator costs and copyrights How much should you expect to pay?

Generally I have paid between $500 and $3000 for a front cover illustration, depending on the complexity of the image and the experience of the artist. Illustrations for pages can range anywhere from $35 to $350 each. Small cartoons to cheer up the pages will, of course, cost less per illustration than full-page color illustrations.

For a standard 32-page children’s picture book, expect to pay $5,000 and up. You may find a less expensive (and therefore less experienced) illustrator, but remember that hiring an experienced illustrator will save you time, money, and grief. Experienced children’s book illustrators can charge up to $20,000 for a color picture book and its cover. A 32-page picture book will probably include 20 full-color illustrations (assuming that most are 2-page spreads), and include the book cover. If you pay, say, $5,000, your book illustrator is getting paid $250 per illustration. That’s not a huge amount, considering how many hours it often takes to create a custom illustration.

Who will own the copyright of the illustrations?

The artists I’ve worked with have a policy that you will own the artwork but the artist retains the copyright. That means that the artist will provide you with the artwork to use for your book and all book-related materials (press kit, marketing materials, bookmarks, author website, etc.). You will also have exclusive use of the artwork for your book, and the artist will not sell it to anyone else or use it for any other purpose.

The artist will, however, retain copyright of the artwork. This means that the artist has the right to show the artwork to prospective clients as an example of their work, and include the artwork in their portfolio.

Getting the details in writing

Make sure it’s clear from the beginning as to what you can use the artwork for, how much it’ll cost, what the timeline is, and whether or not you have the exclusive use of it.

If you want to be able to sell the artwork to someone else later on, or use it for any purpose besides your book that you stand to profit from (such as printing the artwork on t-shirts or other items that you’ll be selling), you’ll need to get permission from the artist to do so. Expect to pay extra for that and, again, get permission in writing.

Make sure to include a clause in your contract stipulating that you’ll receive the illustrations as digital files in the appropriate size, resolution, and format to use for printing. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying a professional to scan or photograph the artwork at your expense.

See an example of a basic contract between a self-publisher and an artist here.

Gaining permission to use existing artwork

Suppose you find an existing image you want to use for your book. It could be a work of art in a museum, from a website or magazine, or any artwork that has already been created. You’ll need to request permission to use the artwork, find out the cost, and obtain a suitable digital file. Here is a sample permissions letter you can use.

Note: Be aware that if you use museum artwork, you will most certainly be required to use the entire piece without cropping.

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Working with your book illustrator

Your illustrator will get started once your contract is in place and a deposit is paid. For some books, the illustrator will need to see the layout of the text on the pages. This helps them to 1) read the text for context, 2) see how much space is available for each illustration, and 3) plan the illustration to fit the surrounding text.

First you’ll see some roughs (pencil or digital sketches) to make sure the illustrations are on track. Once approved, the artist will finalize the illustrations and add color. Final payment is due upon final approval of the illustration.

Clear communication with your illustrator is key. To make things go as smoothly as possible, don’t assume that the artist knows what you’re thinking. Tell them, for instance, that you want the house to be Victorian style, or you want the little girl to look hopeful no matter what happens to her, or that the people in the illustrations are African-American.

Once you receive the roughs, go through them thoroughly, taking your time. Make sure they fit the space you’ve allotted for them. If they’re not what you envisioned, let them sit for a couple of days. You might discover that the illustrator has captured something that’s actually better than what you expected.

The artist will expect you to request some changes and will (or should, at least) appreciate any helpful suggestions. They do want the illustrations to be perfect for your book—after all, you could possibly work as a team again in the future, or you might refer another author to them someday.

Calculating the right size for illustrations

You’ll want to be sure that the illustrations you’re commissioning are the right size for your printed book. These dimensions should be included in the contract you sign with your book illustrator. If your illustrator knows these specs right from the beginning, you’ll avoid any difficulties during the book production stage.

Size of full-bleed illustrations

Full-bleed illustrations extend beyond the edges of the pages so there are no white areas showing when the printed pages are trimmed to size. Let’s say the trim size of your book will be 8.5″ × 11″. Your printer will require a minimum bleed of 1/8″ (0.125″) on all the outside edges of your pages.

A 1-page illustration will have an extra 0.125″ added to the top, bottom, and outside of the page, like this:

If the trim size of this book is 8.5″ × 11″, the final size of a full-bleed illustration for one page will be 8.625″ × 11.25″. (Note that 0.125″ was added to the width and 0.25″ was added to the height—you should add these same dimensions to whatever size your book page is.)

A 2-page illustration will have an extra 0.125″ added to the top, bottom, and outside of both pages, like this:

If the trim size of this book is 8.5″ × 11″, the final size of a full-bleed illustration for a 2-page spread will be 17.25″ × 11.25″. (Note that 0.25″ was added to the width and 0.25″ was added to the height—you should add these same dimensions to whatever size your book pages are.)

Note: The center of a 2-page spread is bound into the gutter (or spine) of the book. For that reason, it’s crucial that no important parts of an illustration are placed down the gutter, as they will disappear into the binding of the book. Usually the gutter is an area approximately 1.5″ wide down the spine (see diagram above).

For children’s book illustrations, it’s often helpful for your book illustrator to see the layout of the text on the pages before creating the illustrations. That way, they can leave enough space in the illustrations for the text. The text will ideally be placed over an area of the illustration that isn’t busy and is a light enough color so that the text is easy to read (such as a pale area of sky).

Similarly for your front and/or back cover, any bleed illustrations will have to extend beyond the edges by the same amounts: 0.125″ at top, bottom, and sides. Your book printer will specify the bleed amounts on your cover template. (If you are designing the cover yourself, see part 8 of Book Design Made Simple for all the details on this.)

Size of spot illustrations

Spot illustrations don’t bleed off the edges of the pages, but are contained within the page margins and occupy a quarter, half, or full page. Let’s say, for example, that your page size is 6″ × 9″. Usually the margins for a book this size are approximately 0.75″ on all sides.

Subtract the margin sizes from the page size to get the maximum size of a full-page spot illustration. For a 6″ × 9″ page with 0.75″ margins on all sides, the space available for a full-page illustration is 4.5″ wide × 7.5″ high.

Your illustrator can then create illustrations to integrate nicely with the text, such as for chapter openings or call-outs.

Image resolution and file formats

There are two kinds of digital files for images:

  1. Scans and photographs (images based on pixels)
  2. Drawings (images based on lines, paths, and curves)

The resolution and file format requirements for these two file types are different. Here’s what you need to know.

For scans and photographs

Scanned artwork and photos need to be at least 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at the actual size that they’ll be printed. Check here to see if your images are high enough resolution for printing.

Scans and photos are usually saved in JPG format with RGB color space. (RGB is the color mode used by digital cameras, scanners, computer monitors, and ebooks, but is not used in printed books unless your printer specifically states that it’s okay. At the time of writing, CreateSpace and Edition One are printers we know that will accept RGB files.)

If your printer requires CMYK color (the 4 colors of printing ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) or grayscale (black ink only), then your image files will need to be converted from RGB to CMYK or grayscale. The images will then be saved in an Adobe Photoshop format such as PSD or TIF.

In summary:

  • if RGB is acceptable — 300 ppi, RGB, JPG format
  • if CMYK is required — 300 ppi, CMYK, PSD or TIF format
  • for grayscale — 300 ppi, grayscale, PSD or TIF format

Instructions for this entire process can be found in chapter 46 of Book Design Made Simple.

For vector drawings

Vector drawings are created on the computer in a draw program such as Adobe Illustrator. Shapes are described with mathematical expressions called vectors. A vector drawing can be printed at any size without loss of quality, and therefore resolution is not an issue.

Anything drawn in Adobe Illustrator is a vector drawing, and will be saved in the AI format.

Ready to get started?

Working with a book illustrator can be frustrating, or it can be rewarding. If you find the artist most suited to your project, pay fairly, communicate clearly, and know what to expect throughout, you’ll glide smoothly through the process. We wish you the best possible results.

Read more: Choosing the right trim size for your book »
Read more: Converting images in batches for printing »
Read even more: Planning covers for a book series »

The post Working with a book illustrator appeared first on Book Design Made Simple.

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Have you written a self-help book, DIY book, user manual, training book, or some other book that is full of advice? If so, don’t stop when it’s published. In fact, even before you start writing, make plans to use your book to build business.

If you’re an expert in your field, dream up ways to build business based on your expertise. Could you give seminars? Sell new services? Sell tangible products? Let your imagination run wild. Then look around to see if anyone is already offering something similar, and get more ideas from that.

A few examples of ways to build business

Have you ever seen doctors and financial people giving advice during pledge drives on PBS television? Each of those presenters is selling you something. Many of them have started with a book and expanded into a service. Use those folks as examples and inspiration for your plans. You may not want to go on national TV. But you can start locally, gain experience and confidence, and see if you can (or want to) expand.

You should use the internet to sell, too, but you must start increasing your online presence well before your book comes out by implementing the best methods for search engine optimization (SEO)—see below for more on that.

So use the book to sell your service or product, and vice versa
  • Set your specific, detailed goal(s) and a timeline. Be flexible, though, if your goals turn out to be unrealistic or if a different opportunity presents itself. Don’t be discouraged by slow progress; simply shift your timeline a bit.
  • Organize the business before you go to press with the book. For many of you, this is the one you’ve run all along, so make plans to take on more work. Or plan to take on less work as you go in a slightly new direction. Heck, you might even want to quit what you’re doing and become a professional writer! But that’s a topic for another day.
  • Set up a website, or update and reorganize your existing one. Use your site for content marketing—that is, marketing your knowledge or service by offering advice online. If you’re generous with your knowledge, your reputation will grow. You should definitely allow space on the site for book selling, but don’t overemphasize it.
  • Pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization). Learn some of the many ways to get your page to the top of the list in any online search. Ignoring this leads to life at the bottom of the heap. See below for ways to learn more about it.
  • Mention your website frequently in the book or place the URL at the top or bottom of each page.
  • Write a chapter in your book about your service or product, maybe telling how you started, some interesting things that happened on the job, some famous people you met, or whatever might interest readers. They don’t want the story of your life; just entice them with a few of the interesting bits and leave them wanting more.
  • Offer readers a discount on your service or product. Likewise, offer a discount on your book (or offer it free) to your clients or customers. This will build business and your readership.
  • Make absolutely sure that your book is of the highest quality. Hire both an editor and a proofreader, have a professional-looking design and layout (that’s what we’re here to help you with), and add an appendix (perhaps) and an index (definitely) to produce an authoritative book that compares favorably with the best ones on your topic.
  • Try making how-to videos for YouTube, podcasting, writing your own blog, and then writing guest blog posts for others in your field.
  • Get help. You can do all this marketing and business development yourself with tremendous effort and possibly a very steep learning curve, or you can spend some money and get expert assistance. Read on.
Businesses to help you build business

The short list of resources below is just a sampling of what’s out there. Most are dedicated to helping self-publishers and small presses find success. But please remember that what you get out of these services will depend on how much effort—not necessarily money—you put in.

You can spend a small amount on books (or go to the library):

You can spend a moderate amount on services (or read the blogs for free):

You can spend a great deal on advice and services:

So the book is just the beginning. Think of it as the selling tool, the jumping off point, the advertising medium, and the start of your empire. Since it’s spring right now, you can even think of your book as fertilizer. Now get going and build business!

Read more: The value of an editor »
Read more: Book subject categories – how and where to get them for your book »
And even more: Barcodes – what they include and where to get them »

The post Use your book to build business appeared first on Book Design Made Simple.

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