Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I have announced the release of my book, The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book and I'm sitting on pins and needles hoping that someone, somewhere gets some use out of the darned thing. This is the simple answer to why I wrote it. Let me explain further for those of you that don't understand what the book is about. I'll start with the ToC page...

Section One – Branding Yourself
Choosing an Identity
Creating a Logo (or having one created for you)
Color Scheme Dos and Don’ts
Consistency is Queen – Because Kings are controlled by Queens!

Section Two – Formatting Your Manuscript
Dos and Don’ts when Writing Your Book
Quick Tips for Better Legibility
Building Your Save System
Different Formats for Different Platforms

Section Three – Building a Digital Cover
Size IS Important!
Font Choices – Why does it Matter?
Using Layers

Section Four – Final Checks
Uploading and Proofing

Section Five – Business Considerations
Choosing your distributor(s)
Places to Sell and Market Your Book

Section Six – If Your Book is a Print Version
Your Book’s Guts
Orphans and Widows
Pesky Page Numbers
Running Headers
Cover Considerations
Explaining Bleed and Safety
Conversion to CMYK for print
Math Involved

As you can see, I cover a lot of things in the book related to design and personal branding. Both of these considerations are important, so I give you tips and tricks to put into action that will help you along the way. I use all of my own advice and the print version of The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book is not telling you, but showing you how things look when properly formatted according to the guide.

I had a couple of indie authors look over the ToC and had The Best Boyfriend in the World look over the content (he's not an author and I thought that was best because I wanted someone totally unfamiliar with the whole process). What you see is the result.

I have my own personal brand and am working on a personal logo that I can display here on my blog and on every copyright page for every one of my books. Why? Because consistency is queen. I already use the same font and put my name in the same position on every book, but I need more.

I wrote the book because I saw with my own eyes how many indie authors were struggling with cover design and formatting their print and digital versions. I listened to complaints coming out of the mouths of designers who thought only to criticize the quality of print work emerging from indie authors but not bothering to do anything to help them besides venting on YouTube videos or on blogs.

My personal horn-tooting: I hold a degree in graphic design and graduated at the top of my class (Summa Cum Laude), something that is rarely done in that program. I tutored Graphic Design, English, and Calculus. I won the right to design the commencement cover at my school. The president loved it so much, he used it a second time this year. I got many kudos from my business professors for thinking outside the box and understanding the need for branding. I led creative thinking groups in my composition classes. I taught classes for a number of my professors throughout college when they were absent for one reason or another.

But I'm not so pompous as to put down those that know less than I do about things I went to school for.

I listened to those videos and got angry at the designers spouting their ideals about a utopian society where every indie author has gone to design school and produces a perfect product every time. What do they say? Pay me and I'll help you. But not peanuts or pocket change because they don't want to bother taking the time to put together a guide, they just want to yell at indies for not having $400+ dollars to pay them to do the work. That's part of what drove my price of $2.99.

$2.99 is something the mother who is struggling to write her book and raise her kids alone can afford. $2.99 is what we can find in the cushions of our couch. $2.99 is what the guy with the limited budget and the need for a quality product can afford. $2.99 also says I care about my work and value the information I'm selling to you.

For $2.99 we can change the way indie authors look to the world. We can give the big publishing houses less to criticize us over without breaking the bank or going into hock.

I'd be willing to bet those designers who talk about indie titles sucking eggs in a print version can't write a novel. Most of the designers in my classes could barely write a brief. It's easy to criticize others when you hold a skillset they don't. Just remember, they have skillsets of their own, just in different areas.

Instead of allowing your prejudices to take over and calling out people for not doing things the "proper" way, think of how you might be able to improve the lives of those people. By doing so, you may improve your own life as a bonus. I know the more indie authors that read and follow my book, the more beautiful print versions and beautiful covers I'll have to look at. I will no longer sit and stress wondering how I can help; because I did.

Here's a peek at the cover for my book, The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book

I don't want you to look like the poor lady on the cover there. It lessens productivity when you bang your head or sit slouched in a chair doing nothing but being stressed. Go get the book today and know that I built this book for you and me.

Here are the links:

Kindle version - free for prime users, $2.99 for everyone else. There will be NO free promotions for this one except over on Goodreads, where I'll giveaway two copies of the printed version to two lucky winners.
Paperback version - $6.99. Again, NO free promotions except on Goodreads. Check back here for the link that will appear in the sidebar sometime this week.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Hi there, Jo--

    You have an interesting perspective on indie covers. I'm going to admit right out of the gate that I'm a cover design snob. I'm a product designer, but my husband is in advertising and studied graphic design.

    I respect what he does so much that I never attempt much graphic design on my own. I'd ask him to do a cover in a heartbeat, because he's got the right SKILL set to get the job done professionally. I dislike it when indie authors expect a professional response to their work when they have not used a professional to design the cover. Some people can pull it off, and that's awesome! But others, well, they do their writing a huge disservice.

    Consumers DO NOT know good design from bad (I say this with a decade of experience), but they are naturally attracted to visually pleasing design. So, if an non-designer wants to do their own cover, I'm all for it--but they may not get the results they desire. It's a tough budgeting decision. Cover designers should respect that, just as non-designers should respect design expertise and not claim they "did the same thing themselves." Because chances are, unless you are design-trained, you did not.

    A great option is checking with your local universities. Many design students would be thrilled with the chance to work on a published cover for free, or very low cost.

    1. Hi Melanie, thanks for the comments! Glad to have you!

      I'm not saying it's the BEST alternative to going to design school or hiring a designer, but if I can at least help indie authors achieve color harmony, prevent white gaps between images and edges, and allow a more pleasing typography experience overall, why wouldn't I? :)

      The fact is, people that do it themselves, were going to do it themselves anyway. The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book is simply a reference to help prevent and/or cure many of the common problems that occur. Problems that are easily addressed with a little bit of knowledge.

      I saw a ton of people (book designers mostly) complaining about poorly executed covers - and interiors - but no one doing anything about it. They were complaining but taking no action and offering no advice. See a need, fill a need, and maybe prevent some head-banging along the way, right? ;)

      Again, thanks for the blog love! Welcome to my madness :)


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