Pricing your e-book

This post is the forty-fifth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Your novel is written and formatted. You have a cover and the book blurb written. But before you can upload your book to whatever e-book retailer you choose, there are a few more things you need to decide. The first is price (today’s post) and then there is genre and keywords (next week’s post).

You have spent months, even years, toiling over this book. You, of course, think it is worth just as much as any New York bestseller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognizes your name.

While bestsellers can sell for $10-18 (prices based on hard cover and paperbacks NY Times Bestsellers on Amazon), should you expect your book to sell for the same amount? To be quite honest with you the answer is no. Yes, your novel may be well-written, but people don’t know you, and many will not be willing to shell out that type of money for a novel by an unknown.

You are free to price your book however you desire. If you feel your e-book should be priced comparably to a best-selling hard cover, go right ahead. But realize that many readers may not share your opinion, and your sales will reflect that.

A lot of authors, myself included, price their books at $2.99 since this allows them the higher royalty rate on Amazon but is still low enough to entice readers to give an unknown author a chance. Some authors price their novels $4.99 or higher. However, I will say as a reader myself, I rarely spend that on a well-known author, so I am not spending that on someone I have never heard of and may not like.

And of course, some people try 99 cents because at that rate people might be willing to try your book on a lark. As a reader, worst-case scenario you are out a buck and some time. Of course, there are some readers like my mom who never pay for a book because so many authors offer free books. (See below.)

When deciding on the price of your book, you should consider the book’s length. Is it a 10,000-word short story? A 30,000-word novella? Or a 100,000+ word novel?

Now you can come up with your own pricing but in my opinion, you should consider the amounts below.

Short Stories – 99 cents – as a reader I can’t imagine paying more for anything under 15,000 words.

Novels – $2.99 – $4.99 (If you are an unknown, I would aim for the lower end.)

In the end, we have to experiment and see what the market will bear. For an established author with a league of fans, a higher price may be fine. However, for a new author, without any fans, even getting $2.99 for a novel may be hard. Thankfully, changing the price of your novels takes just a few seconds so you can try out different rates to see what works for you.

***Also note that Amazon does have List Price Requirements for minimums (and maximums) of what you required to set. Check out their list here.

A note about Free Book Promotions

We will be covering this later, but since we are talking about pricing I wanted to quickly address if you should offer your book for free – whether it is when it comes out, on a promotion or to make it permanently free.

Well, that depends…

If you are a new author and this is your first book, I would say no, do not offer your book for free. If you have other published books, then you may want to consider it. Remember the long answer comes later. But either way, I don’t suggest you start your book out for free.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

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Formatting your eBook for publication

This post is the forty-fourth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Over the past two weeks, I have covered what you will want before (front matter) and after (back matter) your story. However, before you can upload your story to Amazon, Smashwords or any other e-book retailer (Kobo, Barnes & Noble) you will need to make sure your novel is in the proper format.

Now if you are computer-savvy, this is something you can do for yourself. But for those who don’t feel up to doing it yourself or just don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can hire someone to format your book for you.

Option 1 – Do it yourself

There are directions to follow on Smashwords and on Amazon. Actually, Amazon recently introduced Kindle Create, which is an online tool that lets you format your manuscript for the Kindle. I used it on my last book, and it worked great. I will say that I always do my own formatting. I like to use the Smashwords directions before I do anything else.

Advantage – It is free. If you are relatively proficient at MS Word, it is not difficult to follow either guide.

Disadvantage – if you aren’t proficient in MS Word, or you don’t own/use MS Word you could produce an improperly formatted book that will prevent or delay the publishing of your book. Also depending on your level of proficiency, it can take a while to follow all the formatting steps.

Option 2 – Hire someone

As I said, some authors would rather leave the formatting to the professionals. Just remember that when you hire someone to format your book that is all they are doing. They are not proofing the content.

Smashwords offers a list of formatters (as well as cover designers).

Advantages – Hiring someone who knows what they are doing can take less time and relieve you of having to worry about the formatting being done correctly.

Disadvantage – It cost money. The average rate can vary from $30 to $100 depending on the complexity or condition of your current file. It also can take longer depending on the turnaround time of the person doing the formatting.

Note that if you publish on Smashwords, they require a specific notice as part of the front matter that you will want to remove for submission to Amazon and other providers.

The most important thing is that you follow the guidelines provided by Amazon, Smashwords, or whatever other e-book publishers you are using so that your book not only meets their requirements but looks professional.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

This post is the forty-third in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I covered Front Matter (all the pages BEFORE your story) in your book. Today, I want to talk about Back Matter or all the pages AFTER your story.

If you don’t list anything after your story, you are wasting a prime opportunity to connect with the reader. They just read and loved your story. This is a prime spot to point them to your other books or even ask for a review. (Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to leave a review at your favorite retailer.)

Here are some things to consider including in your back matter…

About the author

This section is pretty self-explanatory. My only comment is this needs to be a brief bio. Think of what you might find on the inside cover of a hardback or paperback novel. This is not the time to list out every one of your accomplishments.  Try to keep it to about 100 words or less.

Here is what is listed in my latest book, Blood Bond:

About the Author

Susan Noble has always loved dragons and magic, so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also had to throw in a telepathic cat to the mix in her The Elemental trilogy.

When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children, three cats and two Cocker Spaniels in Texas.

You can find out about Susan on her blog Into Another World.

Follow me on Twitter or Like my Facebook Page

List of other books

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in my last book.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

Destiny: Book 3 of The Elemental

The Heir to Alexandria

 Connect with me

This is where you can let your readers know how to reach you. Feel free to list your blog, Facebook, Twitter or even your email account. You can see an example above under About the Author.

Promote your next book

If they loved your book, point them to the next one. At the end of the first two books in my trilogy, I always let the reader know there was another book coming. Here is the teaser from Quietus.

Here ends Book Two of The Elemental.

Book Three continues the tale of Lina and Val

as they try to repair the damage to the Land

and realize their battle with Selda isn’t over yet.

Now at the end of my short story, The Search, I actually included the prologue and first chapter of book one of my trilogy.

The story of Lina and Tosh continues in Summoned: Book One of The Elemental.

Please enjoy the prologue and first chapter of Book One after the “About the Author” section.

Promote someone else’s book

You might team up with another author and promote each other’s work in your book to broaden your readership. You could include an “If you like this book, you might enjoy books by (insert author name)” or even include a sample chapter from their book. Be sure to include links.

Afterward

This is similar to the foreword (which could be included in the front matter) in that it explores how the book came to be written.

In a non-fiction book, you also could have a bibliography, index or glossary as part of the back matter.

There really is no limit to the amount of information you can put after your story has come to an end. It would be a waste not to include at least one or two of these items as your back matter to help you sell more books and build a fan base.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

This post is the forty-second in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Now that your cover and book description are complete, it is time to think about what else you want to include in your book because you need to include more than just your story. Everything that goes before your story is called the Front Matter.

It comprises at a minimum the book’s title and copyright information, but can include other things such as a preface, dedication, or table of contents.

What you include is up to you but don’t want to have a lot of front matter as this is just more pages your reader has to flip/scroll through to reach the start of your book. Also, if you put in too much at the front, it will decrease the number of pages your reader can download or view online as part of a sample of your book.

Title Page (*a must)

This page is pretty obvious. You list the title of your book (and series) and who wrote it. This looks best if you center it.

Quietus

Book Two of The Elemental

 By Susan Leigh Noble

 Copyright Page (*a must)

On the copyright page, you list the copyright notice which will contain the name of the copyright owner and the publication year. This page may also list the permissions and disclaimers. Keep the information to this page to a minimum.

Here is the copyright page from Quietus.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblances to persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Susan Leigh Noble

Published by Susan Leigh Noble

Cover design by Donna Casey (www.digitaldonna.com)

Photos used to create the cover were obtained from dreamtime.com.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system — except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the web — without expressed written permission from Susan Leigh Noble. 

Dedication/Acknowledgement (optional)

If you would like to dedicate your book to someone, it is done in the front of the book. It is located after the copyright page but before any table of contents or start of the actual book. Again, keep this short – one or two people.

My dedication from Summoned:

To my husband,

Without you, this book would not exist.

Acknowledgments are to thank those people who have helped in the creation of your novel – the police officer you interviewed, your editor, your spouse for their support and so on.

List of other books (optional)

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in the third book of my trilogy.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

Preface (optional)

This piece written by the author often tells why the book was written, your research methods and perhaps some acknowledgements if they are not listed separately. This is more common in non-fiction.

Forward (optional)

This is a short piece written by someone other than the author and may provide a context for the main work. If this is a work of non-fiction, a forward by an expert can lend authority to your book. The forward is usually signed with its author’s name, place and date.

Table of Contents (optional)

A table of contents (TOC) is most often added to non-fiction books. It also could be used for a collection of stories whether an anthology, short stories or a “box set” of your trilogy to aid the reader in finding the story or section they want to read.

Now whether your fiction book needs a TOC is a matter of preference. Some authors and readers prefer a TOC. If you have given names to each of your chapter, a TOC might make more sense. Otherwise it will be just a list of chapters (Chapter One, Chapter Two and so on.) If you do include a TOC, it should be right before your first chapter or prologue.

Next week we will look at Back Matter which is all the stuff that comes after your story.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

Writing an awesome book blurb

This post is the forty-first in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I wrote about designing your front cover to entice readers to pick up (or click on the link for) your book. Now that the cover has done its job, you need an awesome book description to convince the reader to purchase your book.

A good book blurb is an essential element in selling your novel. Some people find writing book blurbs easy while others struggle with exactly what to say and how long to make their description. The important thing is not to dismiss this significant element in marketing your novel.

The purpose of the book description or blurb is to grab the reader’s attention. Think of the blurb as a movie trailer. A good blurb hints at the story but doesn’t give everything away. A well-written blurb can be the deciding factor on whether the reader purchases your book so definitely spend some time perfecting your copy.

For a short story, the book blurb should only be one or two paragraphs. For novels, consider three paragraphs of no more than 250 words total. Here is a brief overview of what each paragraph might contain but worry more about good prose instead of following this formula.

First paragraph: Introduce your character and the setting. Or open by building the overall plot and setting.

Example: At the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Second paragraph: Set the mood and the conflict. In other words, delve a little deeper into the plot.

Example: Now an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

Third paragraph: Steer toward the resolution (Remember to hint at it and not give it away.) Leave the reader wanting more.

Example: On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago.  Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

I read a lot of book blurbs through the authors I feature on this blog every Friday. I lot of them are not doing their job of enticing me to buy their book. They are chocked full of unnecessary information and often are too long.

Questions to consider so you don’t reveal too much of the plot.

Does the reader really need to know that? (And be harsh when answering this.)

Could what I wrote be a spoiler?

Am I revealing how the conflict was resolved?

Use Action and Emotive Words

When writing, pick words that show action and evoke emotions.

Here are some powerful adjectives often found in book blurbs: devastating, heart-wrenching, harrowing, passionate, terrifying, joyful, entrancing, searing, unforgettable, enchanting, chilling, heartbreaking, heart-rending, pulsating, bewitching, captivating, shocking, endearing, and spell-binding.

But make sure if you use these terms that they are accurate. Don’t tote your novel as fast-paced, action adventure when it isn’t.

End with conflict

Always leave the reader wanting more. The last line should have them dying to know what happens. You can end with a question or hint at future danger. But most of all, do not hint at how things will be resolved. You want them to read the book for find that out!

Remember, the book blurb is your sales pitch. Don’t skimp; spend time polishing it. The well-written blurb really can make all the difference.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

Investing in an eye-catching book cover

This post is the fortieth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I discussed two components of your book cover – the title and your author name (and whether a pen name would be beneficial.) Today, I want to cover the designing of your book cover.

The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the image. The cover is the first thing your readers see and is where they decide if your book is worth their time to even read the book description.

Things you want in a cover:

  • Simple, easy to understand
  • Having an impact or something that grabs the reader’s attention
  • If it is for an e-book, make sure it looks good at thumbnail size.

Things to avoid:

  • Too many things on the cover/clutter
  • Bad layout where title and author names are in bad location or size. (If you are famous, your name could be bigger than the title but typically you want the title to stand out more than your name.)

Now you may already have an idea about what you want on your cover, but if not, you may want to visit a book store or browse Amazon to see what style of cover grabs your attention.

If you have the resources and the know-how, there is nothing wrong with creating your own cover if it looks professional and is eye-catching. But most authors are better off if they let an expect design their cover. There are a variety of different designers out there offering a wide variety of cover designs.

To find a list of cover designers, check out this list on Smashwords. From there, you can look at each designer’s portfolio and pricing. (Some of the more popular ones have really long wait lists for covers!) The process will go easier if you have an idea of what you want on your cover,  but if you have no clue, most designers will be able to show you a few options based on your story synopsis or sample chapters.

Unless you are going to pay someone to draw your cover, most designers are going to be working with graphics and stock photos. If you want an idea of what is out there, check out stock photo sites such as istockphotodreamstime and bigstockphoto.

There are even designers that have pre-made covers that they just drop in your title and name. I am not saying these are bad if you just happen to find something that fits your book perfectly but in general, I would rather have something designed specifically for my book.

Take some time to look at covers of popular books and find out what you like. Think about what you think will entice a reader to pick up or click on your book. And then take the time to create a profession design or have someone do it for you. The time and effort that you devote to designing your cover will definitely pay off in the end.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

Self-publishing an ebook decisions

This post is the thirty-eighth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, we talked about making sure your novel is ready to publish and then went over traditional publishing houses as well as taking the option to self-publish a physical copy of your book. But nowadays so many people have an e-book reader or e-book reader app that it might be worth it not to publish a physical copy of your book and only publish an electronic version.

Now with any self-published book, you, the author, make all the decisions. In the next couple of weeks, we will be going over these areas in more depth.

Cover

One of the most important aspects of selling your book is to have a good, eye-catching cover. Even though you will be selling online instead of a brick-and-mortar store, many readers select their books based on appearance.

While some authors are skilled enough to design their own cover, I would highly recommend that you have a professional do it. And go to one that is going to custom design a cover for your book rather than just one that will take a stock cover and add your name and title.

Book Blurb

Just like paperbacks have descriptions on the back cover, your e-book will need an enticing blurb. This is the second most important aspect after the cover. Your cool, awesome cover made the reader click on your book link. Now it is up to the book blurb to seal the deal.

Please take a lot of time when writing the blurb. Don’t just jot down something quickly. Go read book blurbs and decide what works. After you write yours, polish it just like you did your novel. It needs to shine!

Content

There is much more to having a novel than just the story. You need front matter (cover page, copyright page and perhaps a table of contents or dedication page) as well as the back matter (a biography and list of other books you have written and perhaps even an excerpt of another book).

Formatting

This is one of the trickiest parts of preparing your novel for publication. Both Amazon and Smashwords (e-book distributors) offer steps to format your book for their publication. My suggestion would be to follow Smashword’s steps first. It clears out many of the problems that you didn’t even know existed. If you aren’t completely savvy in the ways of computers, please elicit or hire help for this step. Formatting effects how your novel appears on e-book readers so it is an important step in allowing readers to enjoy your writing.

Distribution

Once you have a properly formatted book, you are ready to self-publish it. And to begin, you should start with the largest e-book retailer out there – Amazon.

Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s platform for self-publishers. They offer step-by-step instructions on offering your book on their website. You have the choice of either 35% or 70% royalties based on the selling price of your e-book. If you approve it, your book will be sold in all markets from the UK to Japan and Italy as well as the United States and Canada. They also offer a program called KDP Select where you exclusively allow them to publish your book. It is up to you to decide if being only found in the largest e-book retailer will benefit you more than having your book available at ALL e-book retailers. (You can opt to do KDP Select for a limited time.)

Smashwords  offers a way to publish your work with many distributors from Amazon to Barnes & Noble and iTunes and many other e-book retailers. It can save you time from having to do each distributor individually though since you are paid through Smashwords instead of directly from the other retailers there is a slight lag in payment processing.

So there is a brief overview of some of the topics that are to come, but we will also be covering selecting a title, pen names, author bios, author websites and more so stay tuned!

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your Novel