Do Something Cool with Your Book Covers

BUILD WITH BOOK COVERS

If you’re an author who has a book cover with visual appeal, here is your chance to raise that visual appeal to a higher level.

Build something cool with your book cover.

Although designing a cover that has strong visual appeal is a challenge, building with a book cover is much easier than it looks.

First of all, you could keep it two-dimensional, and simply use copy/paste to create rectangular blocks. Anything that you can build by stacking together blocks, you could build with your cover.

You don’t have to work with rectangles. You could crop your cover to other shapes.

But even three-dimensional images are relatively easy. There are apps that can help you achieve three-dimensional rotations, and some common picture software programs have this feature built-in.

You could even do this with Word. (Though Word is common and it’s easy to do with Word, one drawback will be limited DPI, in case you’re planning to print the results. You can make the page size 20″ x 20″ in Word with zero margins to maximize the picture size, then later transfer the picture to real picture-editing software to create a smaller image with higher DPI than what Word offers.)

In recent versions of Word, select the picture, go to the Format tab, look for Picture Effects, and choose 3-D Rotation. If you make 3 copies of your cover, you can put the right combination of 3 of the presets together to make a cube. (However, if your cover isn’t square, you’ll need to squeeze the aspect ratio for the “top,” or add a border to the cover to make it square before you start like I did with my astronomy cover above. For rectangular covers, you can make the top piece square after unlocking the aspect ratio in the Size options and then making the width equal the height.)

In the picture above, I rotated my algebra cover two different directions and pasted them together. If I had only used two, I could have added a top or bottom to make a cube, but I wanted to show that the cube isn’t your only option. Use your creativity. You can make anything from dominoes to pyramids.

You can see a pyramid that I created above. That’s the cover for my Kindle Formatting Magic book, which will be published later this month (hopefully), which was designed by Melissa Stevens at www.theillustratedauthor.net. Once you make a box out of your cover, you can use copy/paste and stack the boxes together to make just about anything.

Illustrator Melissa Stevens made the shapes that you see above using a variety of my book covers. She also designed the header for my self-publishing blog using the covers for my self-publishing books. One of the pictures shows a boxed set, which is something you can make when you have a few related books.

Below I have a simple picture of one of my book covers walking down a runway like a model. The judges are holding up scores to judge it (not that there’s much to judge on that cover, as it just consists of text—but that’s a funny thing about covers: especially with nonfiction, something simple like that can be effective).

Another cool thing you can do is take a picture of a city (but be careful, some of the stock photos that you see of big cities have limitations on their usage) and add your book cover to it. For example, Chris the Storyreading Ape (thestoryreadingapeblog.com) made the picture below using the cover for my mathematical puzzle book.

BOOK MARKETING OPPORTUNITY

Of course, the book cover itself can help with (or hinder) book marketing.

But if you make something cool with your book cover, it provides an additional opportunity.

I don’t mean to suggest that if you create a box out of your book cover that your book will suddenly become a bestseller.

I’m saying that there are ways that you could use this effectively, depending on your creativity and marketing skills (but even if they’re lacking, you might get a little traffic from it).

The big problem with book marketing is that you want everyone in the world to learn about your book, but it’s really hard to find strangers who are receptive to marketing that basically says, “This is my book, would you please buy it?”

Thousands of authors are blogging, tweeting, interacting on Facebook, advertising, writing articles, and everything else that they can think of that they might be willing to try to help spread the word about their books. Some marketing is more effective than others.

Simply reminding people that you’re an author and that you wrote a book, or simply telling that your book is the best read ever has limited effect.

Authors strive to find other ways to catch readers’ interest, hoping that once the reader becomes interested, they’ll notice that they’re authors and then be willing to check out their books. This is the heart of book marketing, combined with author branding.

So making something cool with your cover is another way to possibly catch readers’ interest with a cool visual display. Getting people to notice that visual display, well that’s another part of marketing, where you try to widen your reach.

You can use your book cover creation in a variety of ways:

  • in a blog, tweet, or post
  • to make a bookmark (a handy marketing tool, something that may actually get used by readers)
  • add it as a secondary picture on your author page
  • wear it on a t-shirt and see if it sparks any conversations about your book

Some authors have the creativity and marketing insight to really take advantage of a strong visual display, but at the very least, it might help get a short spur of interest.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2018

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Marketing your book on Father’s Day and other holidays

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

MARKETING BOOKS NEAR HOLIDAYS

Father’s Day and other holidays can be book marketing opportunities.

Did you take advantage of this book marketing opportunity this Father’s Day? You could have.

If not, Independence Day in the US is coming up soon.

So how could Father’s Day be a book marketing opportunity?

Here are a few ways:

  • Your book might make for a nice gift for dads.
  • The father-son relationship may be a significant part of your novel.
  • Your nonfiction book might relate to tools, classic cars, or something that many fathers may enjoy.

If your book might make for a nice Father’s Day gift, you have the opportunity to say, basically, “Here’s a Father’s Day gift idea,” instead of another, “Check out my book,” message.

Or you might put your book on sale temporarily and advertise the promotion. You can advertise not just that your book is on sale, but that it would be a nice gift for dads.

Check out this example on Read Tuesday, which collected some Father’s Day gift book ideas.

Some authors use the holidays which best relate to their books to get media coverage through press releases. Local papers are looking for holiday themed articles, and your book’s relevance to a holiday might be a good fit. You don’t know until you try.

But Father’s Day is just one of many holidays:

  • December 31, New Year’s Eve. Great for books that tie into New Year’s resolutions.
  • February 14, Valentine’s Day. This one may be too obvious.
  • March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Have an Irish theme to your book? Is part of your book set in Ireland?
  • March/April, Easter Sunday. One of many religious holidays.
  • April 1, April Fool’s Day. I suppose you could even use a practical joke as part of your marketing strategy.
  • May 5, Cinco de Mayo. But if you have a book that relates to Mexico in some way, beware that May 5 is not Mexico’s Independence Day (which falls on September 16, another opportunity to market your books a few months later).
  • May, Mother’s Day. Would your book make a nice gift for moms? Does it feature a strong mother-daughter relationship?
  • June, Father’s Day. Covered that earlier.
  • July 4, Independence Day. Patriotic books get a few holidays, including Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
  • November, Thanksgiving. It could be a book that relates to the spirit of giving thanks.
  • December 25, Christmas. A huge day in the US for gift giving, even with gifts that don’t directly relate to the religious holiday.

Which days (possibly not on my short list) are the best fit for your books? Those times offer your book marketing opportunities. Look out for them.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

If Reading Were a Spectator Sport…

Just Read It

Imagine if reading were a big-time spectator sport like boxing or football:

  • Nerds would be the jocks.
  • The most popular slogan would be, “Just read it.”
  • Common advice would include, “Keep your eye on the text.”
  • Franchise teams would have names like the Chicago Verbs, Denver Hyphens, Los Angeles Chapters, Mississippi Twains, Dallas Texters, London Haiku, and Philadelphia Lyrical Wonders.
  • Fans would come to the big event shirtless and with words written across their chests and cheeks.
  • Every tail-gating party would feature poetry recitations.
  • The only injuries trainers would need to attend to would be eye soreness and backaches.
  • Close plays would be shown again in slow motion on Instant Readplay.
  • The umpire would shout, “Read Words,” at the beginning of every game.
  • The big game at the end of the season would be called the World Sentences.
  • Instead of people spending $100 to watch two guys beat their brains out for several minutes and 99 cents to read a book for many hours, thousands of spectators would pay hundreds of dollars to watch their favorite teams compete as readers for a few hours.
  • Participants would be called acathletes.
  • Acathletes would earn millions of dollars to show off their amazing reading skills.
  • Teens would dream of going on dates with the top acathletes.
  • Coaches would earn good money to teach valuable reading skills.
  • Publishers and bookstores would sponsor the teams, adding their logos to the jerseys.
  • Stores would sell expensive jerseys featuring authors, books, and acathletes.
  • At home people would watch the big event on giant e-reader screens.
  • Kids would spend their free time practicing their reading skills and would dream of becoming talented readers when they grow up.
  • People would think, “We sure have come a long way since the day of the gladiator.”

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Educators have permission to freely copy part or all of this list entitled “If Reading Were a Spectator Sport…” for non-commercial purposes in order to help promote the spirit of reading.

Is This a List of Stupid Questions?

Question 2

  1. What kind of fool would ever ask this question?
  2. Would anyone be foolish enough to answer this question?
  3. Why can’t you have your cake and eat it, too?
  4. Would you like some mustard for your ice-cream sundae?
  5. For crying out loud, how else would you cry?
  6. Which way did you go, George?
  7. What do you say after you ask, “Are we there yet?” and your father replies, “Yes,” although you clearly aren’t?
  8. Do you, answer, take this question to be your lawfully wedded partner, for better or for worse, till death do you part?—that is the question.
  9. You do realize that this isn’t a yes-no question, don’t you?
  10. Does a question really need to end with a question mark.
  11. This sentence, disguised as a question, is confusing, perhaps, to you.
  12. Are you you?
  13. Am I I?
  14. If a bus has 28 passengers, 6 get on and 3 get off, then 4 get on and 5 get off, then 2 get on and 9 get off, and you’re doing the math right now, why didn’t you wait to find out what the question would be before you bothered?
  15. How stupid would it be to ask this question twice?
  16. How stupid would it be to ask this question twice?
  17. What is the meaning of multiple question marks???????
  18. Is this question really loud?!!!!!!!
  19. Will you get upset if I tell you that this question really isn’t a question?
  20. Can you believe someone actually wrote this?
  21. How many more of these questions will you read?
  22. What makes a question smart?
  23. Why ask why?
  24. Why not ask why?
  25. Why ask, “Who cares?” when you don’t care who cares?
  26. When will this list be over?
  27. Did you really just waste your time reading this list of stupid question?
  28. If you leave a comment, will the reply be yet another stupid question?
  29. Is this work copyrighted © 2014 by Chris McMullen?
  30. Should we throw in another question just because?

Must the Fate of the Universe Hang on the Line?

apocalypse

I was reading a science fiction book last week. I was content with it for much of the book. It started out on earth with realistic characters. Then, as with all science fiction, things have to get a little far-fetched to make contact with another world. This part was no surprise. Things began to gradually grow more and more unbelievable with the introduction of new creatures with more incredible features. The storyline had been engaging prior to this, so I began to wonder, “Was this necessary?”

Eventually, the story turned into apocalyptic fiction, as the fate of the universe turned out to be at stake. Then I really had to wonder, “Why?”

I didn’t select the book because I was looking for apocalyptic fiction. In fact, I had no idea this was coming. If this element wasn’t there to sell the book to apocalyptic fiction readers, then why was it there? Surprise, you’re reading apocalyptic fiction; you’re halfway through the book, so you might as well keep on reading, like it or not.

It made me reflect how many apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels there are.

Does the fate of the universe really need to be at stake in order to make a book worth reading? If the universe might not end, does that make the book unimportant?

Surely, a book can please readers through storyline, characterization, cool ideas, style, word flow, and other aspects. It shouldn’t have to seem like the most important thing in the universe to be worth reading, right?

Personally, I’d like things to be somewhat less ambitious, somewhat more plausible. However, I’m just one reader, and that’s not a good statistical sample. Many readers do seem to be into apocalyptic fiction. As an author, if you’re hoping to sell more books, you should try to learn the tastes of your specific target audience.

This varies by genre, too. If you’re writing about zombies, post-apocalyptic fiction may be the norm; for a whodunit, this would be an unusual twist.

How do you feel about this? Do you want the fate of the universe to hang in the balance of your novels?

Publishing Resources

You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

What I Learned from Reading Fiction

Fiction

  1. Everything will be okay in the end, no matter how awful it seems right now.
  2. Things will get worse before they get better. Much worse.
  3. Don’t try to be a favorite; you know the underdog is going to win.
  4. Mr. Right is right under your nose; you just don’t realize it.
  5. There is a fairy tale ending for you, but it will be hell getting there.
  6. When you finally reach a state of happiness, brace yourself for the sequel.
  7. Live the life of a protagonist. You’ll have a happy ending and the life will be very rewarding.
  8. You can make life easy by being a major antagonist; you just won’t have a happy ending.
  9. The safest bet is to live life like a narrator; you get to see all the action, and you must survive to tell about it.
  10. If you’re not tall, dark, and handsome, don’t live life like you’re in a romance novel.
  11. Imagination can be a million times more exciting than reality.
  12. Reality is a million times safer than fiction.
  13. Make life more exciting by imagining you’re in a novel.
  14. Don’t trust anyone. Ever.
  15. Anything can happen to anybody at anytime.
  16. The more incredible the odds, the more likely things will work out.
  17. Be very afraid of the dark. Don’t go out at night. Don’t do anything.
  18. Good always triumphs over evil, but evil never gives up.
  19. Stay away from fiction writers: They must be totally insane.
  20. How to write better.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Marketing a Book Is Like Dating

Date

The Bar

Authors dress their books up with covers and blurbs, and mingle with readers through marketing. Readers are searching for good books, checking out those covers and blurbs, looking for a good catch to take home and bundle up with.

The Pick-up Line

Trying to stand out, authors try to design fantastic covers, promote their books with special deals, or catch interest with a clever strapline. Readers want to be impressed; they won’t fall for a common one-liner. If the line does impress them, they will play hard to get.

The Blind Date

A reader who enjoyed a book sets the book up with a friend. The friend is nervous. If the book doesn’t turn out to be good, he will feel obligated to grind through it so he doesn’t let his friend down. He’s also worried that the book may be too good for him, with more vocabulary and complexity than he’s prepared to handle.

The Courtship

Authors interact with their target audience in person and online through readings, signings, seminars, presentations, blogs, fan pages, podcasts, and interviews. They brand their images over a period of months, hoping to show readers that they are serious about the relationship.

The Kiss

Finally, after weeks of branding, the reader has clicked link to view the book’s product page, read the blurb, and—oh, here it comes, the moment we’ve been waiting for—KISS!—the reader is viewing the Look Inside. It better be a good kiss. If you like it, there are hundreds of more pages where that came from. Come on, kiss this book like you’ve never kissed a book before.

The Commitment

It was a good kiss. The reader invited the book home for the evening. This is the best night ever, a moment the book will treasure for the rest of its life. It’s a dream come true.

The One-Night Stand

What happened? It started with a good kiss. The book went home with the reader. They had a great time. The next thing the book knows, it was returned. The reader is gone. How could this be?

The Dump

Once the reader got home, it discovered that while the book had a handsome face, it was really a scoundrel of a character. Beyond the Look Inside, the book turned into something awful. The book is promptly dumped, confined to sit on a shelf, watch the reader pass by a few times each day, and bear the agony of seeing the reader sit by the fireplace with other books, smiling and laughing gleefully. Life is just unbearable.

The Climax

Just what every book and reader were hoping for, the book was good enough to please the reader, who finally reached the climax of the book. The feeling is just wonderful. For a few minutes. Then the book realizes that this is the end. Well, it was good while it lasted. At least the reader left some change on the nightstand.

The Marriage

Every author dreams about the marriage: Readers who enjoy the first book so much they propose to marry the whole series. It will be a grand wedding.

The Affair

While conversing with a fan, an author learns that she is reading a book in the same genre by a popular author. How could she do a thing like that? What will people think?

The Divorce

It’s that tragic moment when the reader gives up on a series. It was a match made in Heaven. What could possibly have gone wrong?

The Proposal

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Read is a Four-letter Word

If you read, write, or publish and find yourself somewhat upset, perhaps you can take a little comfort in the realization that ‘read’ is a four-letter word. (And maybe the fact that reading, writing, and publishing are far more enjoyable than many other things you could be doing, even when these activities might frustrate you a bit.)

book

isbn

note

page

read

tale

text

type

word

copy

edit

find

full

left

mark

typo

view

free

give

list

sale

sell

body

line

poem

poet

bold

caps

dash

font

stop

blog

like

link

mail

post

send

stat

byte

file

HTML

open

Word

save

size

Fire

iPad

Kobo

Lulu

Nook

Sony

There are a few notable words that have more than four letters:

criticism

defects

feedback

plagiarism

rejection

returns

reviews

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Did You Return the Gift of Reading This Christmas?

Gift 2

Have you enjoyed any good books this year?

There is a simple way to repay the favor: Leave a review or refer a friend. Tell other people why you enjoyed the book so they might enjoy it, too. This way, you can share the gift of a great read with others without spending a penny.

Happy holidays!

Chris McMullen

How to Enjoy a Book—No, Really

Judge

You think this is obvious, huh?

  • Enjoying a vacation should be automatic, but you encounter tourists who complain frequently.
  • You can mess up a good kiss by using your brain instead of just letting your heart take over.
  • Simply being alive should make us happy, but we humans are kind of funny about that.

We also don’t always enjoy a book the way we should.

How to Enjoy a Book

Reading should be a pleasurable experience. It’s not just the writing that makes a book good or bad. The reader plays a role in this, too.

Here are some tips to truly enjoying a good read:

  • Make the words sound and flow in a way that appeals to you. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. The author strung the words together, but it’s up to you to say them (in your mind) in a way that appeals to you.
  • Read the book in an ambiance that will let you enjoy it. Don’t read it where you’ll be distracted. Silence your cell phone, please.
  • Don’t read when you’re in a mood that might spoil a good book, unless you’re willing to commit to the book, letting the book take over and pull you out of reality.
  • Consider the title and blurb carefully. Scrutinize the beginning. Weigh the pros and cons of the reviews. The more wisely you select the book, the more you can trust that you will enjoy it.
  • Check out the author online. Look for signs of passion and professionalism. Interact with the author a little. I enjoy a book much more when I have personally interacted with the author and periodically see signs of the author’s passion and dedication.
  • Sit back and enjoy it. Don’t analyze it. You’re the reader, not a coauthor. Enjoy it the way it is (or toss it out if you can’t); don’t think about how it should have been.
  • Approach it with a positive outlook. Focus on what the book’s strengths have to offer. Don’t look for faults in it, as that puts you in a negative frame of mind.
  • Don’t think about reviewing the book while you’re reading it. That forces you to look for criticism. Enjoy the book while you’re reading it. Don’t think critically until it’s over.

Suppose you go to a movie theatre to see a movie that you’ve long anticipated. You with your friends. You share a big tub of popcorn, get a drink, even splurge on your favorite candy. Your friends pay so you don’t have to sweat the bill. You’re really going to enjoy this movie. It has to really stink up a storm to make you not enjoy it.

Read your book under similar circumstances and you will truly enjoy it.

Help Others Enjoy Books

Recommend a good book that you’ve read to others for whom it would be a good fit. Periodically ask how it’s going. Discuss what you like or mention that something big is coming, without giving any spoilers. If they complain about an issue, highlight a strength of the book that compensates for this and help them focus on that. This improves the reading experience for others.

Are you an author? Occasionally, remind your readers how to truly enjoy a good book.

I’m a Reader Like You

Chris McMullen.

I love to read and write. As a physicist, I tend to analyze things. As a teacher, I tend to think critically: I see a solution and instinctively think, “What’s wrong with this.” This type of thinking is helpful when you’re solving problems or helping students learn. However, if you get into these habits, it can be a challenge to retrain yourself to just enjoy something like a good book.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers