Kindle Book Cover Creation: A Simple Yet Powerful Tip for Indie Authors!

Stand (4)Here’s a simple tip when writing your book:

Begin with the end in mind.

It is the second habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” In his website, which presents excerpts of his book, he wrote:

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.

Stand (2)That’s exactly what I did today!

I created a working cover for my book, which is still a work in progress (as you may have known if you happen you read any of my earlier posts).

Many authors do that. They create and put in front of them a visual image of their book before the first word is even written.

I agree. It’s so inspiring, highly motivating and extremely empowering!

When things look drab, it’s pretty easy for you to say, “Oh, what a drag!”

When the going gets rough, you buckle up but still can’t toughen up

You’ve lost your spark, you won’t budge even when facing a great white shark

Your feet are as heavy as boulder, look at that drooping shoulder

You can’t lift a finger, how can you as a writer even move further

What do you do now, you can’t go any farther

Look no harder than your draft book cover

It’s there to perk you up and give you that quick pick me up.

Pardon my attempt at creating that poem! I’m just exploding at the thought of having this book come out soon.

Stand (1)Anyway, please let me know what you think of my draft cover at the top. I did two more versions that closely resembles the first. These are by no means cast in stone and can change drastically anytime.

That’s how book covers transform.

And mine is no exception.

Now, what do you think?

Day 5 Challenge: Pen Names: Why Hide Behind Aliases?

textI chanced upon a piece of cook book at the Amazon Kindle Store with the cover image of a delectable and highly enticing meal. It got my attention so I searched for similar titles under the same author.

I did find five to six more. Great work on the book covers. Same strong appeal. Same inviting effect.

As I scrolled down his Author Central page, I found more Kindle ebooks. They were erotica books featuring torrid, steamy and stimulating images of couples.

Okay, a chef who loves erotica. Why not?

Well, to some, this can be disturbing.

Pen Names: Should You Be Using One?

Let’s add a twist to this. What if, the author happened to be a prolific writer and did children’s books catering to the impressionable minds of 6-8 or 9-12 year-old kids? For sure, these age groups have the capability to search out books from the same author. Imagine how they’ll react to his erotica-themed book covers if they bumped on them in their searches. Would they say, “Mommy, I want to read this!” or “Mom, what the…”?

Then, what if he also carried religious types of books?

Who knows if he were a sex therapist and had books on that genre as well? Or he espoused ideas on same-sex marriage?

Let’s add more juice. What if the writer who’s using his real name is a pastor for a congregation of churches, university chancellor, professor of theology, guidance counselor for abused teenage kids or high-profile banker at the Bank of America?

The story can go on and on and on. And the horror?

But then, who told you that you can’t write and publish books on various competing and conflicting topics or genres? Or that you can’t use your real name for all of them?

You can, of course. Go ahead. As long as you don’t violate rules, rights or law that you’ll be held accountable for, why not? Most especially in this age of indie publishing where publishing a book every second is not far from possible, the sky is the limit as to what where you can take your writing.

But publishing your books under just one name or your real name can have serious implications on your career and personal life.

Why? How?

Pen Names: Why Use One?

Using pen names, fictitious names, aliases, pseudonyms, nom de guerre or nom de plume is legal, acceptable and an honored tradition that survived hundreds of years.

Why use one?

Here are reasons why you’d opt for a pen name instead of your real one:

file00086047112

  • Privacy. Many authors just want to live normal lives, safe and free from the prying eyes of strangers who can get in the way of their personal and/or professional space. In the same way, they want to protect their family and relatives from the spotlight in anticipation of fame. Maintaining anonymity saves them from unnecessary distractions and allow them to focus on what they normally do. 
  • Integrity. Many authors want to uphold their integrity or their ability to remain honest and maintain strong moral principles. They want to keep their self-respect intact. Pen names can help them achieve that end.
  • Branding. Many authors want to build a personal brand or image or be known as an authority in their chosen field. A pen name can do that. Compare a meticulously crafted or well thought-out pen name with a funny or hilarious name. Unless their books are related to jokes or making people giggle or laugh,  a suitable pen name would help them be taken seriously. Also, a female writer who wants to influence the male population would benefit from a male pseudonym. It’s not uncommon to have a specific pen name for each genre or subgenre for the purpose of branding.
  • Marketability. Easy read, easy recall and quick sell. That’s power selling. That’s what using a highly marketable pen name is all about as practiced in Hollywood.

Pen Names: A Great Guide Before Using One

Here is a great resource that Adrienne DeWolfe of Writing World put together on 10 important questions to ask yourself when considering using a pen name:

  1. How comfortable are you with having your real name splashed all over the Internet, especially if your writing is being savaged in a blog post or book review?
  2. Are you likely to attract more readers in your fiction genre if you’re writing novels as a male or a female?
  3. Would your name be easier to remember, pronounce, or spell if it was more generic?
  4. Is your real name so common that it could be easily confused with the name of someone else (for instance, a highly publicized white-collar criminal or another author in your fiction genre?)
  5. Would you prefer to err on the side of caution, protecting your loved ones from your followers or from any future career fall-out that you may suffer?
  6. How comfortable are you with the idea that fans and detractors may be able to find you in the phone book and show up at your house or your place of business?
  7. Is your preferred pseudonym easy to spell and remember?
  8. Does your real name invoke a positive association with the fiction genre that you’re writing? (For instance, if your birth name is Cherry Clapp, you may face hurdles in the Romance genre.)
  9. Are you planning to write multiple fiction genres?
  10. Where is your preferred pseudonym likely to be shelved? (At the bottom of a book store’s stacks? Near the name of a bestselling author in your fiction genre?)

Pen Names: Ways to Find One

  • Think up of a random name that sounds great to your ears, something that pops out or has rhythm. It can be anything. Please consult your brain for this!
  • Use one that’s similar or close to your real name. If your name is Charles Dickens, why not use Dick Charles? John Andrews from Johnny Andrews. Charlie Chapman from Charlie Chaplin.
  • Find one that rings a bell to readers in your target genre like mystery, science fiction, paranormal or supernatural, business. You may visit bestseller sections at the Amazon Kindle Store for samples of fitting names.
  • Use a random name generator such as Name Generator, List of Random Names and Fake Name Generator. They are fun to use and can be handy when creating character names for your fiction stories. This is the easiest to use.
  • Search for popular names of babies born under a specific year based on the age group of your target readers. If you’re targeting women between 45 and 60 years of age, you may look for popular names of baby girls born between 1969 and 1954 here or here, which is a US government site.
  • Search for names of popular or bestselling authors and create one that sounds like or is similar to any of those names. J.K. Bowling, Stephen Queen, Stephen Coffey, Anthony Bobbins? Of course, I’m silly! But you get what I mean.
  • Mix and match or do a combo based on previous searches.

Have you picked a pen name yet?

What are you waiting for? Actually, when you need to or when you’re ready.

A Pen Name: What Is It to Your Book Cover?

file000388983772Whew! I got overly excited about discussing pen names that I almost lost sight of what’s behind writing this section.

Let’s get back on track: What’s the relevance of pen names to creating our book cover?

What are the highly visible elements of a book cover again?

  • Book title
  • Image or picture
  • Author’s name (or pen name).

These elements help to sell your book.

Very briefly, a relevant, striking and powerful pen name adds to the emotional appeal or affectivity and salability  or effectivity of your book cover.

Period.

Hope that helps.

Let me know what you think of this post. I’d really love to hear from you!


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Day 4 Challenge: Three Costly Mistakes Indie Authors Make with Their DIY Book Cover

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442No one is devoid of mistakes. They are there for certain reasons. As Henry C. Link, a famous psychologist from the 1800’s who was alienated from his Christian belief at one point in his faith, said humorously,

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”

Flak that you get from your “rare” do-it-yourself (DIY) book cover should not hurt you. Theoretically speaking. In reality though, they do… like a two-edged knife that cuts through your heart. Ouch!

You may use those criticisms to be a Picasso at designing book covers. Why not? Many indie authors have become masterful not only at writing and publishing but also with cover creation.

Indie Author Priority: Writing or Cover Creation?

But, hey! Which one has more weight as gold? Which one would advance your publishing career?

Ummm, writing? Unless you’re a graphic artist who’s trying your hand at writing. But then, how can this topic be of use to you when you’re so much wiser?

Reality is, not all indie authors can afford the services of professional graphic designers. It is worth saying at this point though that indie authors have more options and opportunities now to get themselves a professionally designed book cover at a price range that’s within their reach. You’ll learn how in later sections.

While still striving or struggling to earn the money that would pay for these services, there’s no stopping you from creating your DIY book cover.

Unless your book sales sucks! And your book cover needs a quick fix to salvage whatever value your book has.

Certainly, $5 for a more captivating book cover wouldn’t hurt your pocket, would it?

So, go on. Make mistakes. Plenty. In time, they’ll pay off with superior work.

Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence. ~ Ovid

But first things first. You can’t be better at something when you don’t know which areas to fix or work on, don’t you think?

Indie Author Mistakes in Creating Book Covers

Here are three costly mistakes that indie authors make when creating their own book cover:

  • Going into battle without the proper orientation and appropriate gears.

file2711283980668How can you dive into book cover creation without, at the very least, knowing the basic principles that guide it? How can you lack an understanding or appreciation of the importance of a great book cover?

This is a major crime, don’t you think? Doing the motions without knowing why is a great disservice to yourself and an utter waste of your efforts on writing your book. How then can you expect a great job?

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~ Stephen R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  • Turning a deaf ear to feedback or the stats.

You ignore “criticisms” that are supposed to provide you a clearer direction. You don’t even want look at your statistics to get a picture of what’s going on.

Perhaps, you’re just scared of the facts. Or is it that you don’t know where to look, which is really a lame excuse, don’t you think?

  • Not going the extra mile.

You’re just complacent with what is – what you know and can do. Why not take time to study the booksellers section to figure out what bestsellers have that you can copy or emulate?

When your book cover is done, it’s as if the die is cast and there’s nothing you can do to turn the tide. You don’t go the extra mile to test if your book cover achieves the highest returns or if there’s an even better look and feel? Doing more enhancements or tweaks is just too much.

Indie Authors: What Now?

Governing these mistakes just seems to be the “who cares” or “I don’t care” attitude. The question is, can you really afford to not care?

  • If these mistakes are costing you something valuable – like your future? – don’t you think it’s time to take heed and make amends?
  • If you don’t think that you’re not up to the challenge of turning up a book cover that works, why not find someone who’s qualified than you?
  • If you’re intent on designing your own book cover because of the long-term benefits of control and savings, to name a few, why not learn the trade deliberately and religiously?
  • If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for the professional fees of a cover designer, how about trading or swapping services?
  • If you’re serious at succeeding in self-publishing, why not get the feedback of people who matter to you like your target readers? Why not learn from already existing book covers?

Important things to ponder on, huh?

So, tell. Which of these mistakes are yours?

Hopefully, not all; but if so, no worries.

Now, you know your important next steps.

Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later, a collection of mistakes is what is called experience. ~ Denis Waitley

As indie authors, are these mistakes true to you at one point in your attempts at creating your book cover?

How did you deal with them?

What other mistakes have you done that helped you be better with your DIY book cover?

Please chime in! This post would surely benefit from your valuable inputs. 🙂


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Day 2 Challenge ~ A Perfect Book Cover: Can It Make Your Book a Bestseller? (Yes and No!)

business-books-2Can a perfect book cover shoot your book up to bestseller?

Certainly!

But not always.

Have you ever wondered how some books become bestseller even with a plain-looking book cover?

Exactly! There are a lot more factors that come into play and your book cover is just one of them.

So if you’re still under the impression or misconception that a perfect book cover is all you need, wake up and see reality for what it is.

If all your efforts and investment fail, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t even think of quitting.

Winners never quit and quitters never win. ~Vince Lombardi

After this discussion, you’ll be a lot wiser.

Now, let’s examine what these factors are and turn them to your advantage:

  • Hungry Market

This is a major factor, no doubt.

Your book cover may be the plainest and most boring. It may come naked, with just the book title and author name.

If you hit the right market – one where hungry buyers devour just about anything on something that makes them happy or solves their problem – then you have a jackpot in your hands.

You must therefore hit this thing on the head!

Hard.

You can be an overnight success if you do.

  • Keyword Optimization

You may often hear the advice about keyword optimization or using the right keywords for your book.

Use of the right keywords simply lets your book get easily found when people search for a certain topic.

For what good is it to have a book that can solve the world’s worst problems when people can’t find it… or got a clue that it even exists?

If you go to Amazon’s search engine or to Google’s, you’ll find below the search bar a row of words or phrases relating to your topic. They are the most searched words and that’s why they are there.

You must use them, therefore.

You may also use other keyword search tools like the Google  Keyword Planner Tool, Kindle Samurai, Kindle Spy, Micro Niche Finder and more.

There are plenty of them, both free and paid.

  • Active Marketing

Have you ever wondered why Kindle book authors put a badge on their book claiming that it’s a bestseller?

If you look at the sales rank, you’ll notice how its position is way below the 100,000 mark. Some, even worst.

It’s not that they were not telling the truth. On the contrary. And I believe them.

Their book did become a bestseller. At one point. Perhaps, for a day or few days. And that’s possible.

That can be done through active and effective marketing.

They do it in a lot of ways like paid ads (Facebook, Adsense, etc.) social media, give-aways, email marketing, joint venture partnerships, and more.

This is not a general picture though. A lot of bestseller books remain on top for a long period of time.

And there’s certainly nothing wrong with embarking on active marketing to achieve success with your book. In fact, you should learn to do this. It pays.

  • Leverage from a Series or Number of Existing Books

Other authors who already have a series or number of books published link them all up so that when someone buys and reads one book, he’s introduced to the author’s other books, too.

People who like what they read, in most instances, buy other books from the same author.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

And that’s one way why the book cover doesn’t count that much anymore.

  • Huge Author Following

Marketing all the more becomes powerful when the author has a huge army of followers.

That’s why it pays to “build your email list” where the money is.

Just one push of the “send” button to thousands of subscribers can spell a huge difference to your book.

Imagine converting 3% of your 1,000 subscribers to buyers of your Kindle book that is priced at $2.99. That’s a gross income of $89.70 for one email alone.

Write a more compelling email and convert by 15%  at the same price. That’s a gross income of $448.50 or net of $313.95 from 150 subscribers.

What if you have 2,000 subscribers? Or 5,000? Or 10,000?

Many established authors, bloggers and internet marketers have more than that.

Now, go on. Play some more with the numbers and do the math.

The income is just amazing, isn’t it?

It’s a no-brainer how your book can easily be a bestseller.

As an author, your job is no longer confined to writing and the creative stuff.

If you want to succeed in your self-publishing career, you need to learn the ropes of effective marketing.

And at the heart of it is building your list or database of subscribers. Using your website, social media or your book , you provide would-be subscribers with something valuable in exchange for their email.

With a direct access to them, you can now keep in touch regularly for reasons like

  • building trust
  • promoting your existing or upcoming books
  • affiliate marketing
  • feeling their pulse on new topics for your succeeding books,
  • and more. 

You’re no longer at the mercy of the big players like Amazon because you have an asset – your list!

In future posts, we’ll touch more on this but for now, let’s leave this at that, okay?

In summary, a perfect book cover can make your book a bestseller. But again not always.

There are many factors why books, or Kindle books, to be specific, become bestsellers. It is to your advantage as an indie author to learn alternative ways for your book to succeed.

For sure, get that perfect book cover done. It’ll make your book look eye-catching and professional and add credibility to it, enough to make your target readers buy it.

BUT explore the others as well because they work!

Let me know what you think of this article by writing your thoughts and comments below.

If you’re looking for my Day 1 Challenge post, part 1 is here while part 2, here.

As always, I value your contribution to making this post awesome!


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Day 1 Challenge ~ What Exactly Does Your Book Cover Do? (Part 2)

The 3C’s of a Book Cover

A book cover has three main functions. When it performs all three, you got yourself a perfect book cover!

I’ll call these functions as the 3 C’s of a book cover:

1. Captivate

Kindle Book Cover Your book cover should have the “oomph” to turn heads and grab attention.

Whose attention? Your target readers’.

It should not only be different but unique, interesting and attractive.

In an ocean of book covers, it should be able to stand out from the pack.

It should charm your target readers, disarm them and warm them up.

It flaunts and flirts with its target readers, which is a fun way of describing it.

Yet, it is a valuable worker – hardworking, untiring and unstoppable.

It’s your book’s emissary and sales agent that’s up 24/7 to do its task.

As your book’s author, it is therefore your task to cloak your book cover with the qualities to captivate!

2. Capture

Kindle Book CoverAfter grabbing your target readers’ attention, your book cover should be able to hook them in, lock them up and take control of them. In a psychological way, of course.

How? Stir their senses. Arouse curiosity. Create excitement. Let them want more of your book.

At this stage, your target readers are flooded with questions like:

  • What is this book all about?
  • What’s so special or different about it from others that I’ve read?
  • What’s with the images?
  • What does it propose or promise to do?
  • What can I learn from it? Or what more?
  • How can it ease my pain or alleviate my situation?
  • How can it make my life better?
  • Plus more (you name it!).

All these happen in a flash. Subconsciously. Unconsciously.

If your book cover is doing an awesome job, your target reader instinctively reaches out for your book, looks at the table of contents, reads a chapter or two.

3. Compel

Now you’ve struck a chord in them. And they’ll want more.

To satisfy their curiosity. To ease their excitement. To get all their questions answered.

Then, they’ll reach out for their credit card, click the “buy button” and complete the sale.

They just bought your book!

And that’s what you want.

Now, your book cover has served its purpose. Perfectly.

Read Part 1 of this post here.

Day 1 Challenge ~ Just What Is a Book Cover? (Part 1)

Drive Thru

Today, I am embarking on a 10-day book writing challenge where, each day, I write a post or two to build up sections to a non-fiction book.

This book is on Kindle Book Covers. It will be at least 5,000 words with around ten chapters.

That’s about 500 words per chapter. It can be more. But not less.

Why this topic?

Well, ebooks are sprouting by the millisecond. From all corners of the world. From both writers and non-writers. It’s pretty clear to me how useful it can be.

This book is intended for indie authors, internet marketers and writers, who are looking at creating their own digital book covers – whether for Kindle, Nook, or other online publishing platforms.

This post is the introductory part, broken down in 2 parts.

Just What Is a Book Cover?

Pretty obvious huh?

An old Chinese Proverb states: “On a journey of a hundred miles, ninety is but half way.”

It’s like writing your Kindle ebook. Just when you thought you’ve written the last word, you realize you need a cover to go.

A book cover is essential to your book.

All authors – amateurs and veterans alike – require a cover for their book. A publishable manuscript that lacks a cover is an unfinished one;

just as a sentence without a period at the end is incomplete 🙂

For centuries, books went in plain covers. Everyone was okay with that. Besides, in the olden times, only the moneyed few can afford them.

But not anymore. There is just a tsunami of books now in the market, whether offline or online, physical or digital. Each one is competing for attention.

To stand out, a book therefore must have the “X” factor to call attention to itself.

As an author, it would do you wonder if your book wears the perfect cover. (I should add here though as a disclaimer that a perfect book cover doesn’t necessarily make you a bestseller nor assure you of a sale. I’ll discuss that in later sections.)

Beyond the Aesthetics: What a Book Cover Is

So… what exactly is a book cover? What can it do for your book? What is it supposed to do?

Your book cover is, for one, a protective layer or wrapper. It safeguards your book from the elements and extends its lifespan.

It adds to your book’s aesthetics… like eye candy. It makes it striking, pleasing and attractive.

It gives your book a unique personality or a distinct character. All its own.

More importantly, your book cover is a marketing tool. It is designed to promote and sell.

It plays three main functions that I’ll call the 3C’s of your book cover:

  • Captivate
  • Capture
  • Compel.

You may read about it in my next post.