Book Covers 101: Tips for Typography – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Melinda VanLone

I’ve posted several articles here at WITS covering the tone and type of image needed for different genres of book covers, but images are only part of the overall cover puzzle. There’s something else on the cover that’s pretty darn vital…the author name and the title.

Fitting text into an allotted space is both an art and a science, one I’ve spent a lifetime perfecting. That sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

So here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.

Don’t get me wrong, the topography needs to be good. Solid. Professional. What I’m saying is it’s easier to achieve professional looking text on a book cover than it might seem at first glance. Here are some basic guidelines:

Read the rest of this post HERE.

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47 Book Cover Designers to Create Your Best Selling Cover – From the Book Publicist Blog

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

“A Good Book Cover Can Help Sell a Book- A Bad Cover Can Kill a Book.”  Scott Lorenz, Book Publicist

“Your book cover is not a decoration. It’s a smart business investment.” George Foster, Foster Covers

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Being a book publicist and book marketing guy I often weigh in on book cover designs. Sometimes it’s in the nick of time sometimes it’s too late to make a change. Here’s the situation, authors, please – do not underestimate the importance of a book cover’s design.  Not only do potential book buyers judge a book by its cover but so do members of the media. Many reporters receive dozens of books every day! Do you really think they read the book flap and your pitch? Ha!

Here are some important items to consider when making decisions on book cover design:

Use a subhead to create more description. If you have a 10-word title, you have not properly named the book in the first place.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Cover Reveal and New Book Announcement

Well, after a great deal of time, effort and procrastination, I am happy to announce my new book, kongo.com, that will be released on March 29, 2019.

I thought I would take a minute to reveal the cover and announce that it is available for pre-order. Here is the synopsis:

Imagine a company so large that it touches the lives of the majority of citizens around the globe. Through technology, seemingly unlimited resources and philanthropy, kongo.com set out to change the world while making profits never seen before in business. 

Follow the actions of this behemoth company through four stories detailing the life-changing methods used to make the world a better place.

What could possibly go wrong? Read these stories to find out exactly what can go wrong, even with the best intentions, when one company’s vision is unleashed on its customers without their knowledge.

The book is a science fiction/thriller with four novella length stories that have a common theme that ties them together. I was inspired to write a book of this type after reading The Enhanced League by C.S. Boyack.

I’ll be telling you about the four stories in the book in future posts leading up to the March 29th release date. The book is currently available for pre-order by clicking HERE.

Here is the cover. It’s the first that I’ve designed myself and each of the images relate to the stories within the book.

Cover Reveal For My Latest Release

I’m very excited about my upcoming release, Extra Innings. It is a bit of a departure for me as I’ve written mostly detective and mystery novels.

This book started as a memory from childhood of the old minor league baseball stadium in my home town. I spent many summer days there. I remember exciting games that often competed with the volatile Upstate New York weather. I even remember the field having to be plowed so there wouldn’t be snow to interrupt opening day.

The book then twists in the direction of the supernatural. The underlying theme comes from the age old conundrum, if you could go back and change anything in your life, would you?

Here is the blurb I’ve been trying out:

Joe McLean hated his life. He was middle-aged, divorce and living in a small apartment. The only bright spot in his life was cheering on his hometown baseball team. Now, the stadium that was the place of so many childhood and adult baseball memories was being replaced.

Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and maybe have some memorabilia from his happier past. That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken.

Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the old adage, you can never go home again, is true?

Follow the twists and turns in the supernatural story, Extra Innings to find out.

I’m going to enroll this book in the Kindle Scout program soon. If you feel inclined in spreading the word once I do so, I will be reaching out. My last book, Blood Match, thanks to the help of this blogging community, was on the hot list for 22 days out of 30 during it’s Kindle Scout run. Although I didn’t receive a publishing contract from Amazon, it did give the book a boost when it was released.

Finally, here is the cover. I’d love your feedback and comments.

SAMPLE

The Frank Rozzani Detective Boxed Set

When you write a series, it’s great when you have enough to create a cool boxed set. I’ve done this with my first three Frank Rozzani detective novels (number four just went to my editor today).

The first three books can be read standalone, but do have a backstory arc that runs across them and is resolved (maybe) in book 3. They flow together nicely with each one setting up the next.

In addition to the three novels, I’ve included a special short story, Lucy’s Christmas Miracle, that was written about Frank’s loyal dog, Lucy.

All of this adds up to about 800 pages of compelling private detective mystery goodness for a price that is about 60% lower than the price of all of these things added together on Amazon.

But wait, there’s more…not really. That’s about it. If you like what you see, you can check them out HERE.

Here is a synopsis of each item, however:

Book 1 – Frankly Speaking

A 16 year old girl has disappeared. The police believe she is a runaway. Her parents believe she has been taken and is being held against her will. When the parents enlist the services of Frank Rozzani, a former police officer turned private detective, a series of events begins to unfold that implicates a popular local pastor and the religious stronghold of the ultra-conservative community.

Frank Rozzani, a transplant to Jacksonville, Florida from Syracuse, New York, must find the young girl despite the obstacles launched at him from the local police and others whose interests may be compromised by his investigation. Frank enlists the help of his associate Clifford “Jonesy” Jones to find the girl, uncover the conspiracy, and stay alive. While solving the case, Frank must deal with the demons that drove him from Upstate New York causing him to leave traumatic memories and his children behind.

Praise for Frankly Speaking

“A nicely woven tale with intriguing main characters.”

“Good indie fiction, a compelling suspense thriller”

“Frankly Fantastic”

Book 2 – Let Me Be Frank

A young girl is senselessly murdered. The police believe the murder to be a random homeless casualty until it is discovered that she has ties to Fat Sam and his mysterious past life in The Big Easy.

Join private detective Frank Rozzani, and Clifford “Jonesy” Jones as they travel to historic New Orleans and other areas in the Gulf Coast to search for clues in the girl’s trek to Jacksonville, Florida that will help them uncover evidence implicating those responsible for the murder so they can be brought to justice. They soon discover that things are not as they seem. As the case progresses, the evidence uncovered has ties to the tragic events that drove Frank from his life in Syracuse, New York. Frank realizes that proceeding with the case could change his life, as well as the lives of those around him, forever.

Praise for Let Me Be Frank

“Another great by Don Massenzio”

“Frank and Jonesy are once again doing what they do best”

“Great next installment!”

Book 3 – Frank Incensed

The stakes are high as Private Detective Frank Rozzani races against time to save the love of his life. Will Frank rescue her from the terrible man in the trench coat or will this man end the life of yet another person that Frank is close to? Find out who survives in the new Frank Rozzani Detective Mystery – Frank Incensed.

Praise for Frank Incensed

“I am a new fan of Don Massenzio”

“I loved this book!”

“The further adventures of Frank Rozzani, a good read!”

Bonus Short Story – Lucy’s Christmas Miracle

It’s the Christmas Season and a child is missing. Her parents are frantic. Join Private Detective Frank Rozzani and all of his friends as they search for her in the inclement weather of a cold winter night. It will take a miracle to bring her home safely. Christmas is the time for just such miracles.

Praise for Lucy’s Christmas Miracle

“Wonderful POSITIVE mystery short story by a talented author.”

“A happy little tale.”

“This short holiday story by Don Massenzio is definitely worth a read.”

Top 10 Tips For Formatting Your Book – Saving Trees/Bytes vs. Making it Look Good

This blog is a continuation of my crusade to help my fellow independently published authors improve the quality of their work, but most of the tips here apply to the formatting of any book. I’m speaking of the formatting of books for the consumption of readers, not formatting your manuscript to send off to an agent or publisher.  There are a whole other set of rules for that exercise.

I’ve put together a list of ten tips that you should consider when putting your book together. They are not in any priority order, but together, they can make your work stand out from the millions of others that are available through your favorite sales channel.

1. Put Some Thought Into Your Cover

I have to admit, this was something I didn’t waste a lot of time on when I published my first book, Frankly Speaking. I just went ahead and used the Kindle cover creator and cranked out a generic cover. I’m not proud, but I’ll share with you what the original cover looked like:

FS Book Cover

Not too exciting is it? More importantly, what does it tell you about the story? Not much. If it wasn’t for the tag line, I don’t think anyone would even know it was a detective novel. It looks like it may be a book of poetry or something about the ocean.

Luckily, I came to my senses. In order to grab the reader’s attention as they peruse the Amazon Kindle store or the Barnes and Noble site, you need to have a compelling book cover. It should tell a bit of the story. Now, Frankly Speaking is about a crime involving a kidnapped girl and the search for her location. There is also the overarching evil from the main character’s past due to his run-in with the mob. Here is the cover as it exists today:

Newcover - Small

This cover tells a story. The young girl is represented by, well, the young girl in the photo. The evil presence in the main characters life is represented by the shadow of the ominous figure on the left side. The color scheme pushers toward a blue tint.

Because this book is a series, I wanted the subsequent covers to have some continuity and also tell a story. My covers for Let Me Be Frank and Frank Incensed achieve (I hope) that goal. In addition, I tried to establish a color scheme for each so they are unified but stand alone. Here are those covers:

LMBF FI Covers

These covers tell the story but also establish their own cover scheme. The shadowed figure and the font are carried through each cover.

So, now you’re probably thinking these covers were expensive and out of your budget as an indie author. That is where sites like fiverr.com come in. There are freelance sites where graphic designers from all over the world will make high-quality covers for your. Because I wanted my covers for both paperback and kindle use, which adds a back cover I paid about $20 each for these covers. I believe that they have more than paid for themselves.

2. Establish your Brand

I know that this one sounds very “marketing-like” and you may hate that. You need, however, to establish your brand. Now what does this mean? Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. This does not mean locking yourself into one genre. Plenty of authors, even traditionally published ones, jump to different genres in the attempt to find new readers. What this does mean establishing your author persona as an entity. You can choose to crank out books and put them on Amazon or Smashwords and hope for the best, or you can build a brand by creating a newsletter/mailing list, a blog, a web site, and be active in writing and reader groups on social media. I have done this and have seen some success, even in my reviews. I have gained readers who have said they received my newsletter because they signed up for one of my non-book giveaways and they liked the cover of my book and decided to give one a try. Some of these readers have become the most loyal because I didn’t establish the relationship by beating them over the head with my book when I first made contact. These other things may not be fun and you may be a purist and not want to bother with them, but take a look at your book sales and see how that strategy is working for you.

3. Font – Don’t Make Me Get My Reading Glasses

As I get older, my eyesight is starting to deteriorate to the point where I got my first bi-focal  lenses about two years ago. That’s one of the reasons that I like my Kindle. I can blow up the font to ridiculous sizes and put the glasses aside. I don’t, however, recommend making your font ridiculously large, but you should consider an 11 or 12 point font in either Arial or Times Roman when you format your book. If you make your font any smaller, you may save paper for your print book, but you may also lose readers like me with old man eyesight.

4. Spacing – Make it Readable

This topic has a lot of varied opinions, but I will give you some key rules that I follow. My books follow the rule of inserting a blank line between each paragraph and between a paragraph of narrative and a block of dialog. Additionally, I like to use proportional spacing. What this does is line the right side of your writing up along an imaginary straight line by spacing the words on each line proportionally. This eliminates the jagged edges within a paragraph. The last thing is to consider 1.5 spaces between each line instead of single-line spacing. I have two examples below, kind of a before and after, of each technique:

Option 1: Spacing rules not applied

ex1

Option 2: Spacing rules applied

ex2

You may not agree with the formatting differences, but it’s all a matter of preference. I find option two more aesthetically pleasing and easier to read.

5. Chapter Length

Some very famous traditionally-published authors use a common-sense technique that I like to use as well, keeping chapters short. Harlan Coben and James Patterson are both known for this. As someone who reads when I go to bed, I get annoyed by long and ponderous chapters that keep me from going to sleep. I hate stopping in the middle of a chapter, but sometimes I have to. If it’s a good book with short chapters, I will try to squeeze in one or two more. The short chapter length keeps me turning the pages.  I usually try to keep the chapters at 1-2,000 words.

6. eBook vs. Print – They Are Not The Same!

Although Amazon and other platforms make it very easy to set up eBook and Print Book formats, these two media types are not the same and your formatting should differ. This starts with the table of contents (to be talked about later). An eBook does not need page numbers in the TOC. It does, however, need hyperlinks. When I’m flying to some destination for my day job and we hit rough air and I touch some forbidden spot on my Kindle screen, I have booted myself out of books or have jumped to locations unknown. If I haven’t synced my book in a while, it can sometimes be difficult to remember where I left off. With hyperlinks, I can at least jump to the right chapter and not get too frustrated. For print books, page numbers are necessary in the TOC and in the book itself. I will talk about these elements in another tip, but you should at least recognize what is necessary in a print book that is not essential in an eBook.

7. Front Matter – Yes it Matters

Front matter is that stuff at the beginning of the book like a title page, dedication, acknowledgements, copyright notice, disclaimer, and a table of contents. To make your book look like a real big-boy or big-girl book, you should be including these things. Some of them are also essential to protect yourself and your book. Let’s start with the title page and what should be on it. I’m including an example for you to refer to:

Title Page Example

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This title page contains the title (duh) the copyright notice, and the disclaimer. These last two elements are essential to protect your book from piracy and to protect you from being sued. You’ll also notice that the front matter is numbered with lower case Roman numerals in the print version of a book.

The dedication, acknowledgments, and table of contents also appear in this front-matter section and should have the same page numbering scheme. You shouldn’t start normal numbering until the first page of the actual book.

Something that I also do in my front- matter that you’ll see in a lot of books is the addition of reviews of either the current book or other books by the author. You can do this if you have enough reviews to fill a page or two.

8. Table of Contents, Page Numbers, Page Header

The table of contents should go in the front-matter. If you are using Word, the automatically generated TOC will work for both eBooks and print. You just have to suppress including the page numbers for the eBook TOC. For page numbers, they should be placed in the center at the bottom of each page in the footnote area. For a page header, I like to put it in the heading area, right-justified, and in the format Author’s Last Name/Title. An example of these elements is shown below:

ex4

9. Preview Chapters

Another technique that I borrow from traditionally published authors is the use of preview chapters. This is especially effective in a series of books. You can keep the reader’s interest up by putting the first chapter of your next book at the end of the current book. You may be thinking, “I haven’t written the next book yet, dummy.” And this may be true. As the release of your next book gets close, however, you can certainly change your existing book to have this preview chapter at the end. Your existing readers can usually re-download the eBook for free and your new readers will find it there and snap up your new book. I usually announce that I’m doing this and have gotten good traction, even from those that have already read the current book.

10. Write a Good Synopsis

A good 2-3 paragraph synopsis is something you can use over an over again. Most importantly, you can put it on the back over of your print book. If someone picks up a copy of your book, the natural tendency (after they marvel at your great cover) is to turn the book over and read the synopsis. You can also use it as the description of your book on your favorite eBook platform and as your “elevator speech” when someone asks you about your book in the hallway or…elevator. The synopsis should tell the reader enough of the story to entice them, but not give away key details or the ending. Think of movie trailers and television show teasers when you build your synopsis.

I hope these tips have helped you. This is a beefier blog than I usually put out each week, but it’s an important topic. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

About Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of what will be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available. His third book in the Frank Rozzani series, Frank Incensed, is available for pre-order and will be released on April 24, 2015

Prior to finishing his books, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future.

Find out more about Don at his web site:

www.donmassenzio.com