Today’s the day. You’ve finished your final copyedit, you’ve picked the perfect title, and now you are ready to release your baby to the world. But how do you get your novel dressed and ready for release?
Decide if you will do an e-pub only, or if you will do a print version
This will depend on your audience. Novelist and non-fiction writers will have different needs. As a reader, I prefer epub for novels, but I want my cookbooks and reference materials in print. You must do your research. Since most readers of this blog are novel writers, I will cover epub, rather than print.
Simply uploading your word doc isn’t going to produce the best results. The text must be converted into a usable epub format.
Your text will need:
- A responsive layout to display correctly on various e-readers
- An interactive table of contents with working links.
- Consistent formatting for chapters, chapter breaks, scene breaks, italics, etc.
- Correct formatting for introductory chapter graphics
If your manuscript relies heavily on graphics or illustrations, consider getting a professional as these are more difficult to typeset.
David Kudler’s article from The Book Designer is a good place to start. He lays out instructions for manually formatting your text. Even if you plan to use a program, it’s interesting to know how everything works.
Or invest in a dedicated software program.
Once this is completed, make sure you view (proof) your finished file on multiple devices or ask a friend to read it. If you always view your text on the same device you will not see extra spaces or words with permanent breaks that fall at the end of lines, or blank lines that occur at the end of pages. Also, if you are sending out ARC copies, have your readers report back any errors they find.
Back cover blurb/online description
Have your pitch set before you begin your cover design. Include a short, one sentence, hook to be used on your cover and/or the lead in your online description. This will give you something to send to your designer allowing him/her to capture the tone of your novel in the visual elements, ensuring that both work together.
An effective pitch is the one that sells your novel.
This is the only real “rule” to pitches.
- Are less than 250 words. Nothing turns off a prospective reader more than a giant block of text. A pitch that rambles tells a reader that the book will ramble as well. Get the essence; leave out the fluff.
- Introduce the main character in a way that engages the reader. What does she want?
- Introduce the conflict. What is standing in her way?
- Introduce the stakes. What happens if she fails?
- Reflect the book’s tone. Use words and language that match the book
Effective pitches are not:
- A synopsis. Don’t reveal the ending
- Worldbuilding opportunities, keep it brief
- Backstory dumping grounds. Keep the past out of your pitch and focus on the MC’s present.
- Vague. A dark secret emerges and life will never be the same? Pass. Be specific.
- Essays about why you wrote the book
Once you have your pitch, now you can design your cover
The Front Cover:
Your cover is your number 1 sales tool. If you are planning to make your own, tread carefully. Unless you have some expertise in graphic design, your cover may hinder your sales. There are plenty of professionals who will create a cover at a reasonable price.
Jane Friedman says:
Before you hire a cover designer, I recommend doing some research and studying bestselling books similar to your own in genre, theme, or audience. Find at least two or three covers that you like, and write fifty to a hundred words explaining why these covers look good to you. This serves as the start of a creative brief you can give to your freelance designer, to help them create an appropriate cover for your book.
This advice applies whether you are hiring a professional designer or creating your own cover. You must do your research.
Before you create your cover, ask:
- What genre/category will I place my novel?
- What features/colors/styles reflect this genre?
- What elements appeal to me/my audience?
- How can set my novel apart without making it look out of place?
- Is this part of a series? Plan a unifying theme for all the books.
After you create your cover, ask?
- Does this cover have typography/layout mistakes that make it look amateurish? i.e does something about the text seem off?
- Does this cover accurately reflect the genre and tone?
- Does this cover entice the reader to learn more?
- Does this cover look overly generic, or could it only pitch this novel?
Once you have a perfect epub file and cover, upload it to your chosen sales venue and set your publication date.
Now you can begin your marketing campaign.
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