As a self-publisher, you’re already being judged simply because you are doing it yourself. I even judge myself. I think I’m not as good as the traditionally published authors – no, scratch that – I think people will think I’m not as good because I don’t have that societal status symbol of a publishing house logo in my novel. When I think about that, it just makes me want to try harder. That little writer on my shoulder shakes his fist and says, ‘We’ll show them’.
I want you to show them too. I’ve already spoken about book covers and author branding, but in this post I’m going to go into a bit more detail on what makes for good graphic design for a self-publisher. And it’s a sad fact, but yes – especially for the indie author – your book will be judged by its cover, and so will your brand. The following four areas will benefit from having professional looking design:
- Your book cover
- Your website and blog
- Social media banners and profile pics
- Your author headshot
Nail these four areas and you’ve got a solid foundation for looking as slick as a publishing house. Below, I’ve listed some tips for the indie author to keep in mind when either designing themselves or what to look for when hiring a designer.
Tips for the Indie Author in DIY
- If you aren’t familiar with design, take advantage of an online program such as Canva or Pic Monkey. They have pre-made templates you can use, some of them for free.
- Be consistent in your imagery. Having elements that cross over between different forms of design, like similar fonts or colours. It gives the reader a sense of stability. They recognise your look and learn to trust it. I’m not always the consistent, but it’s good to try.
- Use stock photos for the important shots. Sites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime and iStockphoto offer a handful of images at a great price.
- Do your research – compare book covers for your genre, so you know what your target market expects. I have some worksheets in my marketing or novel planning kit to help you with this. You can download them at my etsy store.
- Get some feedback. Enlist the help of your friends and family to give you tips on your design before you publish it.
Tips for the Indie Author when hiring a designer
- Check to see their previous work.
- Get a quote or estimate for your project, but also enquire about additional fees that may be applicable.
- Make sure you can make revisions. Even if you get only one, make that count. Show the design to friends before submitting your request for changes.
- If you can, look for testimonials from other customers. It’s easy to rip off someone else’s work and have it as your own – it’s happened to me before. I found my work for sale on another site – they were pretending it was their own.
- Find a place that will give you a one-on-one consultation. Whether it’s via email, skype, phone or face to face, it’s important to nut out the job’s details before commencement starts. There are too many questions that can be missed if this consultation doesn’t happen. The end result is that the client ends up unhappy with the product, or the designer has to go back to the drawing board too many times and the cost for the project blows out.
In some exciting news, the Creative Cartel Publishing website is almost complete and ready to help Indie authors with services for publishing their own books. Including … drum roll please … graphic design. YEY! You can like the CCP facebook page and stay up to date with the launch.
Have you got any tips you can share with other independent authors about graphic design? Share below.