Stan Tremblay returns, but this time in his own right
When Steve asked if I wanted to take part in his Open House segment here on the blog, I was very excited to talk about my freelance work. I take a lot of pride in a job well done and have been able to work on some great covers, sharp websites, and dynamic interior layouts. Authors including Steven Savile, Willie Meikle, Scott Nicholson, and said gracious host Steve Lockley. I’ve also done work for Jeremy Robinson, Rick Chesler, Charles Colley, and D.g. Gass. Some of these names you’ve heard of. Others, you will hear of soon - be sure to check them out.
There are four main areas as an author (or publisher) that you should focus on to create a top-notch reader experience. A great cover, professional layout, and a functional, sharp website for fans to go to. The fourth, and probably most important, a well edited manuscript… but well, I don’t consider myself an editor - not my calling.
What do people do? Judge a book by its cover. Having both a graphically sound and aesthetically pleasing design is the first step in making that sale. Balance, color, and images are all taken into consideration when designing a cover. The same should hold true if you decide to try it on your own. I can’t tell you how many times amazing books don’t sell thanks to a bad cover. My pricing typically ranges from $400-700, and while some may think that is expensive, I’ve been told just as often that these prices are industry standard if not low. Other graphic designers I know think I should charge more for my designs. I’m not here to gouge you, I’m here to help you sell books at a fair price. Let’s just take a few minutes to think about how many ebooks it would take to pay off an average cover price of $475… typical royalty on a $2.99 book is about $2 (easy math), which means you would have to sell 238 books to recover that cost. If you don’t think you can sell that many books, you probably shouldn’t be self-publishing.
Next, your print interior needs to be functional, engaging, and legible. You don’t want to cram 150k words in a 300 page 6x9” book. Not only will it be hard to read with tiny, hard to read type, but it will be bad design to boot. What do people do when they feel eye strain from a book which is hard to read… put it down - and probably not pick it back up again. Not only will your book not be finished, but you may not get a follow-up purchase when the next book gets released. To compound that, doing things to make both sides of the brain work - making it engaging - will help the reader move forward and want to keep reading. While novels are meant to please with the words on the page, the right font or a well designed image placed just right will enhance the reader’s experience. Typical pricing for print books is around $600 due to the labor in hyphenation, image creation and proper typographical design principles.
Ebooks are a different story. While many don’t have pictures since some e-readers cannot handle images, the book still needs to be easy to read and navigate. Placing links from chapter to chapter and laying it out in the way readers like to read their books is just as important in e-titles as images, line spacing, and font choices in print titles. Typical pricing for ebooks is around $300 since the labor is much less due to no images, hyphenation and basic font usage.
Last thing I’m going to talk about is web design. I cannot stress enough how important it is in today’s world to have a website for not only fans to see your titles, but also for prospective buyers who you are unknown to now. A properly designed site is not only filled with graphics, but also with plenty of great keywords that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) for places like Google, Yahoo and other search engines to find and place you higher in their rankings. While Wordpress is a great tool for an author, allowing for picts, blog updates and useful widgets, unless it is laid out right, you could be losing out on some key factors. Small sites can cost a few hundred while large or complex sites top thousands of dollars.
Of course, with anything, package deals will save you money, so if you decide to do a cover and an interior for the same book, I offer reduced rates. Same with a cover and website designed with the cover in mind to help brand you.
Many thanks to Steve for allowing me to come on the blog. This was a great opportunity and I whole-heartedly appreciate it. You can find a lot of my stuff on my Facebook page, so come find me. Be sure to let me know you found me here on Lockley’s blog. Looking forward to future contact with you and building relationships.