book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

Booktrack: A New Way to Amplify your Ebook Content

Many content creators, including novelists and ebook authors, are always looking for innovative ways to stand out from the huge amount of material on the market. Does Booktrack offer a viable solution?

Picture opening  a new ebook and alas…soundtrack music wafts out of your speakers, enhancing the reading experience and adding extra punch to the story.

I have to admit: it’s a pretty neat idea. Sadly, it wasn’t my idea.

This innovation is offered by Booktrack, a growing company that expects to change the ebook industry forever. They might just do it too.

How does it work? According to Booktrack’s website: “Booktrack synchronizes movie-style soundtracks to eBooks. Music, ambient audio, and sound effects are automatically paced to an individual’s reading speed and synchronized to complement and enhance the story while a person reads.”

Now, I fully admit that I’m more of a hardcopy book kind of guy. I appreciate ebooks for what they offer (and absolutely love them as an author), but never fell in love with the technology. And, although I never ran a poll amongst my friends, I think most of them feel the same way.

[tweetthis]@Booktrack: A look at their book amplification application #selfpublishing #content[/tweetthis]

Still, I sampled some of the ebooks in the Booktrack store with an open mind. The books delivered a well-matched soundtrack that didn’t distract me from the story. I can only imagine reading a chilling horror story with a spine-tingling soundtrack.

Will the technology catch on to become the standard, or will this be remembered as a simple novelty? Of course, like with many things, only time (and aggressive marketing) will tell. But if the reader comments are any indication, book soundtracks will only continue to grow.

In the meantime, I’m wondering where else this application could be used. For business perhaps? Can you imagine providing a white paper to your clients with a musical score? Or your online Holiday flyer playing seasonal music?

What about music for my blog? I’d like to think it accompanied by something like the “Superman” theme.

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's Desk

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional content management and business copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.

book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

Are Book Dedications Really Necessary?

Book dedications are a time-honoured tradition. But is your book really incomplete without one?

At a book signing one time, a girl was perusing my novel, when a man sidled up to her and said, “You can tell how good a book is going to be by its dedication.”
This, I have to admit, was something I was quite unaware of.

The man then smirked at me, picked up my book, and read its dedication aloud:

“To the Bearded One in the Sky

Or in the Ground

Or Wherever You Call Home These Days”

He looked a little astonished. I have a feeling that it wasn’t what he was expecting.

Book dedications bestow a high honour on those who have inspired us. Whether it be that certain teacher, a close family member, or anyone else who pushed us on with unwavering support, thanking them in permanent ink is our way of giving back.

The dedication tradition is so cemented in publishing that, although it’s usually completely disconnected to anything else in the book, it has its own page, and is often times considered a standard part of a book’s front matter, along with the table of contents, foreword, etc.

Some famous authors have had fun with dedications, or created ones designed to get back at people.

Yet author each felt the need to include a dedication, again, because of tradition.

But what if you chose not to include a dedication in your book? Are readers so used to them that they might feel something is missing?

As a reader, I believe that the dedication is a quick way to get to know the author better. There’s always the “About the Author” page, but dedications always seem more personal than a biography. In many cases, we learn what’s important to the author: their spouse, their cat, their editor, etc. We see who else really played a role in creating this work of art.

[tweetthis]Because, as we authors and editors know, creating a book is a team effort.[/tweetthis]

Even if you dedicate your work to the wind and trees, there’s always something to inspire us. So, as a writer, I will always include a dedication.

As you may have gleaned, I like to have a little fun and be lyrically ambiguous with my dedications. Here’s the one from my second novel:

“To the Pain I Feel

Whenever You Dance Across my Heart”

So who or what am I talking about? Not to be coy, but I think it would ruin the fun if I confessed its meaning. Rather, I prefer the reader take those dedications and apply their own feelings to them.

In other words, who or what has danced across your heart, and left such an indelible mark that it bled?

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's DeskRichard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional business copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.

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book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

A Pro’s Advice on Book Cover Design

Thinking about your book cover design, but not sure where to turn for advice? Book cover artist Alexander von Ness shares some tips with The Editor’s Desk.

Many authors, especially ones who go the self-publishing route, will one day need to come face-to-face with book cover design.

For many, it’s a daunting prospect. Sure, we know how to tell stories. But what do we know about cover art? Should we even try to attempt it ourselves?

Personally, I believe that, along with editing, book cover design should be left to a professional. After all, the cover will be the first thing a prospective reader will see. Shouldn’t it be the best it can be?

So, where do we start? To give us insight, I turned to book cover design artist Alexander von Ness, who agreed to answer some questions about this important part of your book’s overall development.

1) How many book covers have you designed? Do you primarily work for indie authors?

I’ve designed approximately 2,000 covers, which includes covers designed for indie authors, book coaches, medium-size publishing companies, and design contests.

I personally never make any differences between first time indie authors and authors who have already sold millions of books. Every new cover design is a new challenge where I try to create a little masterpiece every time.

Even though I do this for a living, and put food on the table by doing it, this is still a form of art – and art doesn’t include any boundaries in its nature.

2) When authors approach you to design their cover, what are some of their biggest concerns?

Mostly indie authors, who have never worked with me, are concerned that their message wouldn’t be recognized on the cover at first glance. But I reassure them that I make unlimited changes until the author is 100% satisfied.

Also, first time authors are very concerned that I won’t be able to present the main character (and secondary characters) in the way they are described in the book. This is by far the greatest mistake authors make when thinking about a cover! The main character should never be on the cover, unless it’s only in one segment, or as an undefined character whose appearance could still be imagined by the reader while reading the book.

If we have the main character “served” on the book cover, especially in fiction, a lot of readers will forever be deprived of imagining and daydreaming, and might possibly be disappointed by their actual appearance on the cover!

3) What are the most important elements to consider when designing a book cover?

Definitely typography: the font choice and its placement on the cover. Nothing can be compared to that. If your typography is lame, there is no point in having a great design with the best imagery.

I saw a lot of great designs that were literally ruined by bad typography. I would even dare to say that a good designer can be exclusively recognized by a good typography choice. For example, I sometimes send my clients the same design with different typography to prove to them how important this is in the overall design. The typography change was so powerful that the cover was sending a completely different message than it was supposed to.

One of the most important features today, compared to a couple of years back, is the visibility, readability and recognition in a thumbnail size. Today the majority of books are being sold online. So today you’ll see a lot designs with the title over the whole cover, which was unthinkable, even unacceptable a while ago.

Because of this, I’ve seen a new trend in redesigning existing covers. Many authors have done their cover very quickly, unprepared and unprofessional or with a very low budget, so some great, high quality books weren’t selling at all. In the end, they would realize that it is more profitable to make a cover redesign then to write a new book!

For example, at the beginning of this year, I redesigned one fiction novel. Before I made the redesign, the book was selling about seven copies per week. After my redesign, and some extra marketing efforts on the part of the author, the same book was selling almost 2,000 per month! A redesign of the book cover can be a great opportunity to revive sales. Trust me, the results can be surprising!

4) Is it necessary for you to read the book before designing the cover?

No. If that were necessary, I would only be able to create a few covers per year!

After an author contacts me, I send them a few questions to see what they really want, what they like and what they expect from their cover design. Of course, regardless of the different wishes I get from the authors, I design the book cover so it connects to the book and its content and with the message that the author wants to convey to his audience. My goal is, above all, to draw the reader in with the cover design and to give the book a professional appearance that will improve sales.

It’s also important to know the author’s target audience. After I have determined that, I start developing a design concept. Without a strictly defined target audience there is no point in doing a cover design. The majority of authors say that their target audience is males and females from 7 – 77! The author has to realize that his book wasn’t written for every person that enters the bookstore. Once this is determined, I can create an eye-catching book cover.

5) What about interior design? How important is that to the overall reading experience?

Every single part of the book is equally important for success. The interior layout should be readable for everyone. It may not be as important as the title, editing, proofreading, cover design and back copy, because a flawless interior layout design is useless when the book wasn’t edited properly and is filled with grammatical errors.

6) Do you have an opinion about online design tools that allow authors to create book covers on their own?

I think that this is very good and useful, but only to a point. As technology moves on, we have the opportunity to witness the appearance of new tools every day, which are helping us in our everyday work, so it’s no wonder that book cover design also got its turn.

Some book cover designers are frowning because they are afraid that it might take their job away. However, I don’t see any problem here. Just the opposite! I see that the book cover culture is developing in a positive direction and that the awareness of the importance of book cover design is larger every day. We as a community can only gain through that. The ones with a lower budget will be able to have their own book cover, which is something that makes me very happy.

One of the most useful and serious tools would be www.canva.com, which started very well and one that I hope will develop in a good direction. Every tool or application which helps the authors to create their book with less effort can only be beneficial for us who are engaged in the book business. Here I don’t only mean book cover design, but also editing, proofreading, etc. However, I would never recommend people to do these things on their own if they have serious intentions with their book.

Alexander von Ness is a book cover designer with almost 20 years of professional experience in graphic design, and over a decade as Art Director in a branding agency. In the past few years his main area of focus is book cover design. His website Nessgraphica is among the top trusted sites for book cover design services overall.

Questions? Send them to info@editorsdesk.net.

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's DeskRichard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional business copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.


book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

Measuring Publishing Success

Is publishing success only measured in sales?

Here in North America, one of the first questions you’re asked when you first meet someone is, “What do you do for a living?” And because success is too often equated with money, status, and possessions, the rest of the conversation (and ensuing relationship) could very well hinge on your answer.

For authors, publishing success should be measured by accomplishments, not by book sales. I’ve had many folks (writers and non-writers alike) call me a success simply because I wrote a book and had it published. People seem astounded, without even knowing any sales figures.

And I’ve also written a second? Amazing!

So for all you writers out there, the next time you are disappointed at lagging sales, be proud that you were committed enough to see such an enormous project straight through to the end. I know it’s not easy. And I can attest to the fact that many people admire your efforts as well.

Come to think of it, the only ones who consider low book sales as a sign of failure are the traditional publishers. So self publish away and hold your head up high!

You’re already a publishing success. Believe it.

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's DeskRichard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk.


book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

The Inside View – Good Copy for Author Websites

“It’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves…” Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk

The Inside View’s first instalment features Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk. Lissa shares her insights on writing copy for author websites.

1)   What are some of the most important aspects of  an author’s website? 

Give visitors a taste of his or her latest book to draw them in right away. That might mean presenting them with a video teaser on the homepage that recounts or reenacts some of the book without giving away the ending, or maybe it’s a hypnotizing paragraph from the book that is prominently displayed on the homepage. Another important aspect is for an author to provide two or three testimonials from readers and media that clearly showcase his or her talents, and make people want to buy the book. And finally, an author needs to give readers a way to contact him or her, and to follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest or Instagram. Choose just one or two of these social media. Also, don’t forget to ask them to share, share, share the website with their friends!

2)   Should an author write his or her own web copy or hire a professional copywriter? 

I think it’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves and so, for something like a bio, it makes sense to have someone else write it, or at the every least, edit it. If an author does write his or her own copy, then I suggest having it edited by a professional, as even writers make writing mistakes.

3)   How often should an author update his or her blog? What kind of topics should they write about? 

It’s important to update blog content regularly as it will help an author’s website rank better online, which means driving more traffic to the site. I suggest posting once a week or twice a month. To determine what kinds of topics to write about, an author need to figure out who his or her audience is. For example, if it’s crime readers, then it makes sense to post on topics that interest these readers. It’s important for authors to remember that they don’t have to write a new post from scratch each time. Authors can comment on something they’ve read in the news, or post captivating pictures or illustrations. Depending on how long the author has been blogging, he or she can recycle and update content from previous posts, and can also request guest posts from other authors in a similar genre. If you’re not sure what topics to post about, then ask your readers via a survey. People love filling in surveys and it will give authors some useful information to draw from.

4)   Most authors are on some type of social media platform these days. Which, in your opinion, is the most effective for authors? 

I think this really depends on what kind of books the author writes, and also his or her readership. For Young Adult authors I would seriously recommend Twitter and Instagram, as young people are moving away from Facebook and spending more time on these social media. Facebook is good for some audiences, and makes it easy to set up a fan page and to send out invites for book-related events. Pinterest is really popular these days so I would definitely suggest that authors look into how this platform might work in their favour. As an example, if an author writes cookbooks then something like Pinterest or Instagram would be perfect as it is visually based. Although it’s important to be on social media for connecting to readers, I think one can overdo. Better to pick one or two and to post regularly than to be on all of them and not keep up-to-date.

5)   What’s the one thing you can recommend for an author websites that many authors haven’t thought of? 

I find that many authors still don’t have video on their websites, and video is one of the most popular ways of communicating online. In fact, experts say that in a few years it will replace social media altogether. Not sure about that, yet it’s super popular and super shareable so definitely worth doing. Author videos can range from an author reading his or her work, to a Q&A, to an animated video explaining a book’s storyline.

Questions for Lissa? Send them to info@editorsdesk.net.

book dedications,book cover design,publishing success,book editor,author websites,self-editing,rules of self-publishing,self-publishing workshop,proofread,self-publishing,booktrack

Should Indie Writers Be Self-Editing?

You can read. You can write. But should you be self-editing?

Read more