Blog to Book Project — Cover Creator for Print Books

Creating a print book cover is a bit more complicated than an eBook cover. The bar code, spine text, and resolution needs to be just so. Kindle Direct Publishing has a handy little app to help you out here. 

Launch the Cover Creator when prompted after you have uploaded your manuscript on the Content Page. The components are slightly different for print and ebooks, so in this section, I’ll just be talking about the steps for creating a cover for a print book. 

If you have a pdf cover already to upload, you’ll need to make sure you have a space for the bar code. If you want the spine of your book to have the title and author name, your book must be more than 100 pages. 

Next you’ll be prompted to choose an image from the gallery, upload a JPG, PNG or GIF image from your computer, or skip this step if you don’t have an image you want to use.  Make sure the image you choose is public domain or you have permission to use it so as not to violate copyright laws. 

After you’ve uploaded or choosen an image, Cover Creator generates a variety of potential cover designs. Since the program uses the book details including author, title, subtitle and ISBN, the image that you upload should not have any of these items on it. If you don’t have an image you want to use, you can choose from several other options with solid colors or background designs.

If you accidently chose the wrong image or if you get a poor resolution notification, you’ll have a chance to change the image. Your image should be 300 pixels per inch (DPI) at the size you want it to appear on your cover. Sometimes it’s just a matter of resizing the picture until it reaches the acceptable DPI. 

Choose the color scheme you would like to use. You can choose from already paired colors or pick your own. Then, select a layout for the print part of the cover. Finally choose a font and select the orange “Preview” button. 

Make sure to preview your cover to ensure the text is readable and the image looks good. The information on the back cover could be About the Author or a blurb about the content of the book or both. It’s up to you. You can even leave it blank. Just don’t add anyinformation and in final version the prompt section will disappear.

If you like how everything looks, you can hit “Save & Submit.” If you don’t, then you can “Start Over.” If you want to change your image, click on it and you’ll get the option to choose another image or change its size, position or rotation. 

There you have it! Now you’ll see a checkmark with “Cover uploaded successfully” next to the thumbnail of your finished cover. 

Assignment: Use Cover Creator or upload your print book cover. 

Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister

africa book

I admit it, I’m a travel book junkie. I love reading about the experiences other people have had traveling around the world while I sit comfortably at home. Africa is one of those destinations that I love to read about but I am not too sure that I want to visit, ever. 

I picked up Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister and did a little virtual traveling the other day. The pictures that the author included were amazing! I have to say that there is nothing quite like the raw nature of those countries he visited. 

The story he told about his travels was interesting as well. I never thought that there might be monuments and museums about the slave trade in Africa. I suppose that anything can be turned into an attraction. With a little more dedication and money, I’m sure those remote places could become educational and even a profit center for the otherwise isolated settlements. 

I chuckled at the author’s horrible transit stories. I mean really, a vehicle with 15 people stacked three high (that was the image I got from reading the account anyway). The hassle with the ATMs, customs and police bribes, general miscommunication, and so on are quirky, real tidbits that make an adventure story ring true. 

lister

My favorite section was the description of the elaborate tea preparation in Chinguetti, Mauritania, and the Terjit Oasis. I also marveled at the villages that were only accessible by ladder in Djiakan. I could just picture women with babies tied to their backs ascending and descending those ladders. 

I would have liked to have a little more explanation about the author’s thoughts on certain items, like his opinion on renewable energy which he says he was “pretty sure you know how I feel”. Well, I didn’t. Or the thing he had for volcanoes and waterfalls. What thing was that? More details would have been nice. 

Regardless, if you are an arm-chair traveler by choice or circumstance, Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister will take you to distant lands.

four star

Blog to Book Project — Back Cover Bio

Depending on the layout you decide on for the cover for your print book, you may have a place to include a back cover bio. Even if you already have an About the Author section, you might want to include a shorter bio on your cover. 

When someone looks at your book on Amazon, they will see both the front and back cover images. Having a back cover bio is another way to get potential readers interested in what you have to say. 

Example of a back cover bio with picture AND several reviews.

The back cover bio should include why you are an expert on this subject and make you seem approachable, humor works well for that. It really should only a few sentences. The About the Author page will be more in depth. 

Example with review quotes. Notice instead of an author picture, there is an image that lists the author website.

You could include reviews or quotes from recognizable authorities on your back cover instead of an author bio if you like. The effect is the same. Reviews garner interest. Interest increases the likelihood of a purchase. 

Both your About the Author bio and the back cover bio should also be included on your author website. The About the Author bio is your About page on your website. The back cover bio might appear in your sidebar. 

Assignment: Write your back cover bio.

How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub

I had high hopes going into How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub. The introduction started out strong. It claimed that this book was for all business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle with interpersonal relationships. It said that the book would help you identify those who do not have your business as a priority and keep you focused on healthy boundaries. Good stuff, right?

Then I read the book. It contained 31 positive affirmations which were inspiring and nothing more. For example, Day 1 “Do not be afraid to lose clients, customers, or staff. Trying to please everyone creates chaos.” I flipped the page ready to learn more, but there wasn’t anything else in chapter. That was it. And I wanted more. 

I wanted to know why I shouldn’t be afraid to not please everyone. What was at stake by trying to make everyone happy? Where was the research that backed this declaration up? Where were the personal experiences that showed the folly of people pleasing? Where were the reflective questions that I could use as an entrepreneur to align myself to this statement?

So, I have to say that overall I was disappointed with How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub. I thought the affirmations were excellent, but since there was no practical application to them, they were easily forgotten. 

I didn’t feel that I had the edge I needed to protect my business as promised in the introduction by simply contemplating these admonishments. I didn’t feel that I could identify boundaries that would create a stable and secure business that would endure for years. I felt cheated out of my time. Granted, it only took a few minutes to read the entire book but I’m a busy person and those are minutes I’ll never get back.

I received an advanced review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Blog to Book Project — Motif

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, determining your book’s motif is a step in the right direction in creating your book’s final tapestry. A motif is an element, whether figurative or literal, that recurs in your book that has symbolic significance. 

It might be an image that appears at the beginning of each chapter or a perspective the author tries to convey. A butterfly for example, is a symbol of transformation. Including it in a book entitled Overcoming Common Obstacles to a Successful Life Transition along with an emphasis on transforming oneself makes it a motif. 

Knowing your book’s motif will help you design the best cover for your book, find images that fit the theme, and write your book’s blurb. Therefore, you should take some time to examine the threads of your story. Ask yourself:

Are there any repeating patterns? 

Do these patterns reinforce the central theme?

Is there a symbol that readers would associate with your book’s theme?

If you are still having problems finding your motif, maybe you need to consider again WHY you are writing this book and WHAT it is you want to convey. 

For example, I have a series of books based on my experiences in Mexico. I wrote these books to help other women negotiate a new culture in Mexico. That’s my why. I want to convey that despite the challenges, it is possible to create a fulfilling life. My motif, therefore, is survival as represented by a blooming cactus, a plant that not only is found throughout Mexico but one that can survive even the harshest conditions and bloom.

The titles also reflect this motif: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico, A Woman’s Survival Guide to Mexican Healthcare, Surviving Voluntary Exile and so on.  I’ve incorporated that motif into my blog and even my author page on Amazon. It’s an idea that I want my readers to identify me and my books with.

Assignment: Find your book’s motif. 

A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflection Post 2020

And another A to Z Blogging Challenge comes to an end! I have to admit, with all the other things going on in April (COVID-19, quarantine, new kitten, gardening) I didn’t get to visit as many other blogs as I would have liked. Fortunately, I had written all my posts in January, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the challenge either. 

Probably for some of the same reasons, I didn’t get as many visitors as I did previous years. There’s not much to be done about that, I suppose. The value I got out of participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year was that I advanced towards finishing the two self-publishing books I’m working on. I’m not there yet, but I hope soon I will be. 

book weaving course cover   book it book cover

As for next year’s participation….well, if I can come up with a good topic between now and then, perhaps. As it stands right now, I’m not sure. Any ideas?

Regardless, the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020 was another satisfying experience for me. How did it go for you?

A to Z Prepare-athon 2020

To celebrate National Prepareathon Day and the final day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I thought I’d offer A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico FREE for the next few days.

prepper-cover

You can read about how our family has prepared for everything from the Apocalypse to Zombies, including pandemics, economic collapse, and kakistocracy while you practice social distancing.

This compilation was a result of my participation in the A to Z Challenge in 2016 and my first blog to book project, so yet another reason why it’s a fitting end for the series of posts on Content Creative this month.

Thank you for joining me this month!

Blog to Book Project — Back Up Your Manuscript

I know this step seems like a no-brainer, but today we are going to spend just a few minutes talking about why you should back up your manuscript, even after you’ve uploaded it to the publishing site. 

Let’s start with the book template Pressbooks which allows you to access your completed manuscript, edit it, and download it to your computer. Pressbooks, as amazing as it is, might run into technical issues or be hacked. All your hard work will be lost, unless you have a backup version. This could happen no matter which online book template you use.

Saving to your computer isn’t enough. Be sure to save your manuscript to an external memory device like a USB stick and to a cloud storage platform. Computer can suddenly die. USB sticks can become corrupted. Cloud storage can disappear. However, if you save to all three, odds are that at least one copy of your manuscript can be salvaged. 

Now, let’s talk about Amazon. Although Amazon insists that you retain all rights to your work, that isn’t completely true. When you use the Kindle Create program, your .kpf file can only be used on Amazon. If you decide to move your book to another publishing site, you’ll need to start from scratch. Incidentally, this is another reason to use a seperate book template site like Pressbooks rather than Kindle Create.

Amazon may also remove your book and close your account if it believes you have violated one of its ever-changing policies. If this happens, you can publish your manuscript to another platform only IF you have a copy of your manuscript someplace on file. 

Inexpensive or remote server backup options include:

Even if you are only planning on getting one copy of your book for personal enjoyment, having a backup copy will also make it easier should you wish to run a second printing to give as gifts. 

Assignment: Back up your manuscript.

Blog to Book Project–Examining the Drawbacks to Self-Publishing on Amazon

There are a number of excellent self-publishing platforms out there, but Amazon is by far the largest. Although no one knows for sure, many experts estimate that there are currently 6 million eBooks and a total of 48.5 million books available for sale on Amazon. Amazon has cornered the market on approximately 40% of the self-published eBook market. This overreading vastness can be both a blessing and a bane.

Amazon has made it easy to self-publish. However, Amazon also sets the price you can sell at. If you notice, most eBooks listed on Amazon that are not written by authors like Toni Morrison or Stephen King are under $5. As an author, you get only pennies for books read through KOLL and Kindle Unlimited.

On the other hand, forcing you to keep your eBook price low can work to your advantage. As an unknown author, readers may be more apt to take a chance on your book at bargain prices than they would if they had to shell out more than $10 to get their hands on it.

Print book prices are also set by Amazon. You can not offer your book for a price lower than what Amazon decrees, which sometimes prices your book far outside of the average person’s book budget. Which in turn, encourages readers to enroll in Kindle Unlimited where they can read an unlimited number of books for a set price while you get shafted on royalties.

With the sheer number of books that are available on Amazon, your contribution to the literary world may get overlooked. Amazon offers to help you out through paid advertisements, but it may not be worth the money you invest in them, especially if you are just starting out. You’d do better to devote more time on marketing strategies outside of Amazon even if you are redirecting potential readers to your book listing on Amazon. We’ll talk about ways you can do that in the course too.

As you can see, publishing on Amazon can be a writer’s dream-come-true or nightmare.