Resources for Authors

There are tons of tools out there, some free and some for a fee, which can be useful for authors in all the various areas in which they have to operate–primarily in writing and marketing. Each month, Authors On A Dime features a different resource in the section below. But we thought we’d highlight some of the tools we use most…
Canva
This easy-to-use online tool allows you to make graphics for various purposes. Experts say that people are more likely to view or click a post with graphics. Here’s a free way to create those.
canva.com

Pacemaker
Need help setting your writing or editing goals and then tracking to those. Here’s a fantastic tool to help you with that. The free version only allows 2 projects at a time.
pacemaker.press

Dafont
Doing fancier graphics that need more than Times New Roman & Arial. Check out these fonts. (Be careful about using only those that are designated 100% free and Public Domain.)
dafont.com

Deposit Photos
Need fancier photos, or you plan to do your own cover design. A subscription at Deposit Photos might be your best bet.
depositphotos.com

KDP Rocket
We use this tool (yes, you pay for it) to research best keywords for a given book. It’s been invaluable for Amazon keywords not only for search results, but also for Amazon Ads.
kdprocket.com

Author Cross Promotion
Looking to build your mailing list quickly with readers who actually interact and act on your announcements? Try the mailing list building events at Author Cross Promotions!
authorsxp.com

There are tons of resources and tools out there for authors. Which ones do you use constantly that you would recommend. AOAD is always looking for great tips! Send yours in and we’ll share.

Social Media Images Help Find Readers

Social media, for most authors, is the primary means of advertising, marketing, and connecting with readers. A majority of authors start wit the basic needs–a banner image on Facebook and/or a website and use of their book covers.

But there are so many more options for what you can do with images in social media. For example, do you create custom, related images for your blog posts or most important social media posts? All current research shows that posts on social media which include graphics get a higher engagement than those which don’t.

Here are just a few ideas of different images you might want to try using on social media:

Banners
Banners are the long/skinny images that go across the top of your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, website, or other platforms. Sometimes a website has multiple banners, one across the top and one or more on the home page or at the top of each main page. Typically, you want these images to include your logo and/or website. They can also be used to announce/advertise the most important upcoming dates for you as an author (usually new releases).

Advertisements
These image can include more detailed graphics for paid online or print magazine ads. They can also be ads on other websites or in newsletters. This means they come in a wide range of sizes and needs.

Announcements
Use images–usually on Facebook or Twitter–to announce anything from new releases to sales to book signings and so forth. Images will always engage more than just text for these announcements.

Memes
Memes are usually just for fun–funny comments on being an author, what you feel like without coffee in the morning, etc. They can also help catch the attention of new readers for your books. Make a meme which has an image of your heroine and a quote from the book, or the cover with the tagline.

Blog Posts
Always try to have an image that helps grab attention when you post on your blog. Usually, an image which includes the catchy title of the blog post is a great place to started. Other images which illustrate whatever the topic is are also good.

There are a ton of other ways to use imagery when posting on social media. Hopefully these gave you a few new things to think about.

By the way, there is a fantastic page at Make a Website Hub which shows the recommended image dimensions (as of 2016) for various social media needs.

Memes as Marketing Tools

self-publishing

Memes are a fun way to engage with readers and/or other writers on a casual level while still effectively branding yourself.

What is a Meme?

First, the newest definition is that a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

The majority of modern memes are captioned photos that are intended to be funny, often as a way to publicly ridicule human behavior or commonly shared life situations. Other memes can be videos and verbal expressions. Some memes have heavier and more serious content.

 

Why Are Memes Effective?

Have you enjoyed a quote that spoke to you? Laughed at a picture with a funny caption? Felt your heart warm at a sweet image that reminded you of something fond in your own life? Then a meme has been effective for you.

Memes are effective because they are:

  1. Easy to Create – Usually a single image with a quick quote.
  2. Easy to Consume – Again, single image with a quick quote.
  3. Sharable – Most memes are shared via social media, which makes them easy to  like, share, repost, retweet, etc.
  4. Familiar/Relatable – Typically memes are images, quotes, or situations that are familiar to most people.
  5. Funny – Most memes lean toward humor, though they can also be heartwarming or serious.
  6. Attention Getting – Because of the above reasons, memes easily grab the attention of your followers.
  7. Branding – Memes for marketing purposes can help you brand yourself.

 

Using Memes as Marketing Tools

Memes as a tool of marketing can either be very specific and similar (look at big brands like Geico or Progressive), or they can be general but still point to a theme (like being an author). When you use social media as your main means of marketing, then memes become an excellent tool to connect with people. Each time you post a meme, then, ask yourself the following questions

Why Are You Posting a Meme?

Are you short of other things to post that day? Memes are great fillers. Or are you using a meme to help you make a point or an announcement? Why you’re posting will affect the type of meme you’ll use.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Are you aiming at readers? Other writers? Readers of a certain age? Readers of a certain genre?  Your audience will affect the type of meme you use.

What are Your Goals for the Meme?

Is your goal to sell something? To connect with readers? To share your personal life? Your goal for a given meme will affect the type of meme you use.

How Can You Make It About You/Your Books?

This is all about marketing in the end, which means the mean should point back to you somehow. As authors, there are many ways to do this. General memes about your writing life. Memes specific to your genre. Memes specific to your books. Memes about you as a person. Making the memes about you will affect the type of meme you use.

 

Popular Ideas

Just for fun, think through different ideas that are currently popular in the meme world. Take some time to search for memes. Make note of the ones you connect with or enjoy. A few examples include:

  • Animals saying human things.
  • Babies saying or doing adult things.
  • Sayings from popular television shows or movies.
  • Popular images of characters from television shows or movies.
  • Popular or classic quotes.
  • Puns or joke punch lines.
  • That moment when. . .

Create a Cover Wrap for Print

Create aWRAPfor PrintA cover wrap is a graphic design of the book cover intended for print books. It includes not only the front cover, which is used for all ebook sales, but also a spine and back cover.

The tricky part with wraps is getting the sizing and image quality correct, otherwise it looks awful in print. Even trickier, there is not a standard size for templates for 2 reasons. First, print books come in several sizes. Second, each book will have a different number of pages depending on the lenght of the book, additional front/back matter, formatting, size of the book, etc.

So let’s talk about the basics of creating a cover wrap. For the purposes of this post, we’ll be using CreateSpace as our example Print-On-Demand tool.

Image Size

Get the following information from the final formatted-for-print version of the book:

  • Interior Type — The type of pages it’ll be printed on.
  • Trim Size – The size of the book (Ex. 5″ x 8″)
  • Number of Pages – The # of pages after formatted for print in that size/style of book.
  • Paper Color – The color of the paper you will select for print.

Plug the above information into the below tool.

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

The above tool will generate a template (PDF or PNG) for your book which will show you where the front and back covers, spine, bar code, and bleed areas all go.

 

Image Type

Create a blank image in whichever graphics tool you use that matches the size of the template provided. You want it to be:

  • 300 DPI
  • 16 bit color

 

Wrap-Example

Dealing with Placement & Trim/Bleed

Bring the CreateSpace template into your image. In Photoshop make the template layer opaque so you can layer it over my cover design and make sure all my elements are places properly.

In addition, I like to add a rectangle outline to where the spine goes–matching it to the spine lines on the opaque template, so I know where the spine is at all times.

I turn the template on/off as needed, allowing me to design without it in my way, but still check placement.

Per instructions from CreateSpace:

The artwork should extend to the outside edge of the template’s pink zone to ensure a white border will not exist within the printed work. Do not move the guide layer, as it is properly aligned for printing specifications.

Ensure text and/or images that are intended to be read do not appear in the pink zones of the template.

The barcode area is indicated in yellow on the template. Do not place important images or text intending to be read in the barcode location. CreateSpace suggests filling in this area with your background color or design.

 

Saving & Uploading

Once you have your design exactly as you want it, I suggest you upload it in CreateSpace using the online Cover Creator tool. While the dimensions using the cover creator are slightly different, this will still allow you to couple check your bleed areas.

As soon as the image is finalized…

  1. Hide (or turn off) the opaque template layer as well as the spine rectangle (if you used that tip). You don’t want those elements printing on your cover.
  2. Flatten the layers
  3. Save the file as PDF (In Photoshop, select PDV/X (the most recent year available))

You’ll upload this custom PDF directly to CreateSpace.

 

 

Book Cover Elements

When you are working with a book cover designer, there are many elements you need to think about. Some are obvious–like the title–some are optional and not as obvious–like cover quotes. Do try to have an idea of what you’re looking for in each of these elements. It will be a huge help to your cover designer, and increase the likelihood of you loving the finished product.

Let’s take a look at each element.

 

Front Cover

prophesy-cover-750

Image

The image is one of the two most important elements. You want it to capture your book, communicate the genre (setting reader expectations), and be as eye-catching as possible. People really do judge books by their covers. We could write several blog posts on the cover image and probably will.

Author’s Name

This is an obvious one. You’ll always have this on your books covers. The bigger the author, the more real-estate the name will take up on the cover.

Author’s Title/Credentials

If an author is best-selling or award-winning, they may include the type (international, NY Times, USA Today, etc.) just under or above their name in smaller text. Or they may include a “from best-selling author…”

Book Title

Also an obvious one. The goal is to make this readable when the book cover is in thumbnail size on the Amazon search results. The look of the title can be as important as the images you select. Many authors miss this fact. Go look at book covers that truly capture your interest, and see how the title compliments and is incorporated with the image. Sometimes the title is the MOST important element on the cover. So don’t just slap a title on there.

Subtitle

Include if you have a subtitle. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title.

Series Title

Include if this book is part of a series. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title. Hopefully you don’t have both a subtitle and a series title. It’ll look ridiculous.

Series Logo

A series logo can be an actual logo, or it can be a graphic scroll or some other graphic device to place above/below/around your series title. If you include it on book 1, then include it on all the books for consistency.

Series #

If the series needs to be read in order, then include the number this book is in the series. If the books can be read out of order, it’s up to you if you include this or not.

Tagline

An optional element. A tagline is a pithy, one-liner that helps sum up the book and additionally snag the attention of readers. Only include this if you can come up with a good tagline, otherwise, don’t bother.

Cover Quote

An optional element. A cover quote is from a fell author or possibly from a review from a well-known publication which is typically a pithy, one-line sentence about how fabulous this book or your writing is. The more well-known the name in your genre the better.

Publisher Logo

This element is typically determined by the publisher. Many publishers with multiple imprints will include an imprint element on their cover. For a self-published author, this element is unnecessary.

 

Spine

Book Title

Typically this will be oriented vertically. Sometimes the words may be stacked if the spine is thick enough. Sometimes, if the spine is thick and the title short, the title might even remain horizontal. You want it in the same font as on the front cover.

Author Name

Same situation as the book title on the spine. Whether you put the title on top or the author name on top is up to you. Our preference is title on top. However, for those big-name authors, typically their name will be on top. In addition, big-name authors may only include their last name on the spine.

Series Title

Optional. Only include if it’s short enough to take up little space and still be readable.

Series Logo

If you have a series logo which can fit on the spine, we recommend including. It’s a good branding technique for the series.

Series #

Include if you have put the book number on the front cover. You can have just the number, or you can put the number below the series title, series logo, and/or the word “book.”

Publisher Logo

This logo is usually at the very top or very bottom of the spine. If you are a self-published author, consider creating your own publishing company and including your logo.

 

Cursed-Cover-Wrap-Redo4

 

Back Cover

Image

Often with wraps either the image from the front cover continues around the spine to the back cover, or the back cover sports a complimentary image. Location of that image depends on how well text shows up over it or not.

Blurb

The 2-3 paragraphs which tease the reader with an idea of what your book is about.

Bar Code

Assuming you’re using CreateSpace, you leave a part of your back cover (bottom right corner) for the bar code. You don’t need a white square for it. They’ll add it over whatever image is there.

Author Headshot

If there is space, sometimes an author headshot is included.

Author Bio

If there is space, sometimes a short author bio is included. (Most often below the blurb).

Other Books In Series

If this book is in a series and you have the other book covers, you can include thumbnail images of them (usually below the blurb) to entice readers with the rest of the books.

Publisher Logo

As with the spine, sometimes the publisher logo and/or imprint logo may be included on the back cover as well.

Bleed/Cut-Off Areas

Remember with a wrap that the main elements (particularly text) will need to look a tad off center. Print books cut off the edges, and the cover design needs to account for that.

 

These are the most often seen elements on any given book cover. Remember, you DON’T have to do everything suggested here. We highly recommend you spend time look at covers in your genre and finding ones you really like. Ask yourself what you like about them, and try to incorporate those elements–in your own unique fashion, of course, if/when you can.

 

9 Tools for Creating Social Media Images

Wooden toolbox on the tableEvery marketing professional out there will tell you that when it comes to marketing, people are drawn to images. This is true on TV, on billboards, in magazines, and…on social media. Authors, this means you need to get comfortable creating images to use in your social media on a regular basis. Here are 9 tools to help you do that!

Get Images

Part of the trouble with social media images is having to pay for the rights and do the appropriate attribution. Check out these sites for beautiful, free images.

Pexels 

Free stock images for both personal and commercial use without attribution.

https://www.pexels.com

Unsplash

Free stock images for both personal and commercial use without attribution.

https://unsplash.com/

 

Manipulate Images

If you’re not a Photoshop expert and don’t want to pay the $ for the tools, try these easy-to-use tools to help you put together your social media images.

Canva

You can use the free features or pay for custom image usage. Either way, this is an easy to use tool which produces graphics the right size and type for any social media platform.

https://www.canva.com/

Pic Monkey

For a small monthly fee, you have access to a very easy to use tool which allows you to take your pictures to the next level.

https://www.picmonkey.com

 

 

 

Professional Images

If you’re already a whiz with Photoshop or some other graphics tool, here are some tools to step up your game.

Dafont

Download ton of fantastic fonts. Even try out your words in the font first. Just remember to look for licensing rules for each individual font.

http://www.dafont.com/

Adobe Color CC

A free color picker which helps you find the right combination of colors.

https://color.adobe.com/

2017 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

Recommended sizes for any and all social media options. Each works best with different sized images.

https://makeawebsitehub.com/social-media-image-sizes-cheat-sheet/

 

Other

If you want to try making other types of more complicated visuals for your social media, try these:

Pictochart

To create infographics, either from scratch or with their templates

https://piktochart.com/

Recite

Create images for quotes by typing in your quote, picking the layout, and that’s it.

http://www.recitethis.com/

 

 

Does Size Matter?

doessizematterFor self-publication purposes, it’s important to know a few technical aspects of what you’ll require from your book cover designer in order to be able to upload the cover to the eBook retailer and distributor sites and/or Print-On-Demand (POD) sites you choose to publish through.

Every retailer/distributor/POD is a little different. They will post their requirements or recommendations on line. For the 3 that we focus on in this post, here’s what you need to know:

Amazon (retailer):

Amazon suggests a ratio which is skinnier than most eBooks, which then makes your book cover look odd when in a line up with other covers. Their suggestion is not a requirement. As long as it’s 2500 pixels or more long, you’re good. We suggest the following:

  • Type: JPG
  • Color: RGB (most images are in this)
  • Size: 3000 (high) x 2000 (wide) pixels

If it’s a white background, a 1-pixel, dark border needs to be added to the edges so that you can tell where the book cover starts/stops when shown on a white background (like Amazon web pages).

Smashwords (distributor):

Smashwords cover image requirement is that the image be over 1400 pixels on the short side (width). Their recommendation is 1600 px wide. In addition it has to be under 20MB, and they also prefer JPG.

The 3000×2000 image made for Amazon also works for Smashwords.

Create Space (POD):

Because POD is print, we now have to worry about the spine and the back of the cover as well. eBooks, we only care about the front of the cover.

You have two options with this.

Option 1

A cover designer can do a design for print that is a full wrap (includes front, spine, an back of the cover).  This option typically means more $. In addition, your cover designer will need details such as the size of the book and the number of pages to help determine the size of the spine.

Option 2

The easier/cheaper option is to use the front cover design only! Yup. You heard me right.

Create Space has an awesome cover designer tool which comes with several options. Select the SPRUCE design, which allows for a single image on the front cover. You then enter the text for the spine and back cover, and select a solid color for the spine and back cover and text.

Social Media:

You’ll also want a few different sizes for social media and to give reviewers.

You’ll want a JPG in the following sizes:

  • 750 x 500 pixels
  • 300 x 200 pixels

You could also do a 150 pixel size, but honestly, most social media resizes to the smaller dimensions easily for you.

 

Service Spotlight: Banners & Memes

facebook-crimsondahlia-fwSocial media banners (the image across the top of your Facebook, Google, Twitter pages, or banners at the top of webpages on your site), and memes (smaller graphics used on posts) are a fantastic way to advertise your latest projects, releases, or events.

You will be provided a form to fill out providing information on your banner/meme needs. Based on your answers, we will suggest which package below is best suited to your needs.

CrimsonDahlia-NewRelease.fw.pngOnce a package is agreed upon, your artist will provide 2 different banner options to select from. They will then do 3 versions of the option you selected based on feedback you provide.

Once you have selected your final banner or meme, you will be provided several graphics as a JPGs to use on all social media (one for each type of social media you use – up to 4 types of social media).

PRICING

  • Basic Banner/Meme – text-only, basic font, graphic of your book cover or author logo ($5/banner or meme)
  • Pro Banner/Meme – basic graphics using your book cover, premium font ($10/banner or meme)
  • Premium Banner/Meme – custom graphics and premium font ($15/banner or meme)

TRY OUT THE SERVICE: You may “try out” this service by having us do a Basic Banner for FREE.  (Free 1 time only.)

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*To request other services, in addition to graphics services, click the “Request Services” link in the menu.

Your final design is considered copyrighted. You may not reuse the images or elements for other purposes. Other than proprietary images, such as covers or logos, we may use images or elements from your design on other designs at Authors On a Dime.

Any designs/images NOT selected from the initial designs provided are subject to being sold/used for other projects.