Items required to post
your book for sale online
Your novel is edited, rewritten and ready for readers! Next comes the little-known part of the process where multiple computer files must be created to post your book for sale online.
Chances are, you’ve created your novel on a computer. Some writers still prefer to use an old fashion typewriter, but be advised, if you want to self-publish your novel, you will need the manuscript to be in digital format (such as Microsoft Word).
To sell a printed book online you will need to create a Print Layout (Sometimes referred to as a book block). The Microsoft word document of your manuscript will be reformatted to create the print layout, so editing must be complete. The print layout file is the file that will be sent to the printer to print all the interior pages of your book. You will be able to open the file on your computer to see exactly how your book will look.
When creating a print layout you must make choices about the inside of your book. You’ll be selecting trim size, which is the size in inches of your book’s length and width. You’ll choose text fonts and sizes for the main body of the book, as well as font sizes and types for chapter headings. Paper type is a factor to consider as well because this will affect the width of the book spine. You’ll select page header and footers, which could include your name, the book title, and the page number. The print layout will include the copywrite page that contains the author’s name/names, the publisher info and address, the date and edition number. You’ll also create a page for dedications.
If you hire a self-publishing firm to help you create the print layout file (like I do) there is a process of creation and approval you’ll go through to be sure you’re happy with the finished product. They’ll create and send you the file and you’ll check and approve it or mark up changes. Once the print layout is complete, you’ll know the page count of your finished printed book!
At this point the cover needs to be designed. You’ll need two cover files, one for the printed book and one for eBooks. The cover for your printed book will include the back cover, the spine, and the front cover in one PDF file. The back cover will be on the left side, the spine in the middle, and the front cover on the right. When printed, this will become the paperback cover that will wrap around the printed pages to complete your book. The spine width of your book is dictated by the page count in the print layout, (And paper type) so you must complete the print layout before designing the full cover. If you plan to sell only eBooks you need only a front cover. You may have noticed that when buying eBooks you don’t see a back cover unless the book is also available in print.
When you post your book for sale you will have the option to create a cover for free, or to upload an already designed cover file (such as a PDF file you have already created or one professionally designed). Some authors are much better at creating a cover than others. Many factors come into play with cover design, including the genre of your novel. I personally want my books to look as professional as possible, so I pay Book Fuel to create my covers, and they are absolutely lovely, if I do say so myself.
No matter if you use a free cover creator, or if you hire a firm to design your cover, you have to provide all the text you want included. Firm may help you with fonts, etc., but you must write your own synopsis as well as the other components you want on the cover such as your website link, etc. (We’ll discuss creating a synopsis in another blog. The synopsis a very important marketing tool and one of the most difficult things to write.)
If you decide to create your own cover, you’ll have the option to use your own photo or select one within the creator, just be sure you own the rights to any photo you use. Just because you buy a photo online (from Shutterstock etc.) doesn’t mean someone else can’t buy the same photo and use it on their book cover as well. Read up on rights to photos.
Your cousin may have drawn a lovely picture for you, but will that picture on the cover look professional? Maybe, maybe not. You can find people on Google, Twitter, and even Instagram, who will create covers for you for as low as $99. If you’re good with graphics and text you can create a decent cover using the free cover creators. On the other hand, some of the covers I’ve seen were obviously created by a novice. The idea is to make your book look as high quality as possible. After all, the reader is looking for a good book, not one that may be thrown together. Most readers don’t know which books are self published, but they will be able to spot a book that looks cheap, poorly done, or even down right strange.
When I published my second book and it went live online, I was horrified to see that the title of the book was not visible against the background graphics. It looked fine full size on the computer screen, but when thumbnail size, (like on an Amazon page) it looked as if it had no title at all. I’d paid hundreds of dollars and waited months to have this cover designed by a publisher in Canada and I was very upset. Be critical when designing or approving your cover. Open an online bookstore, go to your genre, shrink your cover small, and compare it to the other books. Be honest about how it compares. Have people you trust look at it too. You’ve worked far too hard to have your book overlooked because of something as trivial as a color selection, artwork, or font style of the title. You’ll also want to watch text font and size, especially on the spine where it will be smaller than on the front. Will the font you choose make the printed spine too hard to read?
Next in the process is to create the eBook files. This is the actual file that readers will download when they buy your eBook online. Amazon has a specific file format and other eBooks such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook, have a different format. I tried to create these files myself, but they were admittedly way above my techno level, so I paid Book Fuel to create them for me. Multiple types of software are required and the files created are complex. Depending on your computer, you won’t be able to open these files, you’ll need a specific reader or translator to check them. Creating these files yourself can be done if you’re very savvy, but there are many places out there to help you create them. When I posted my books online myself for the first time, I found it very reassuring to know that the files were created professionally and my readers would not see glaring errors in the format of the book.
A few more notes about the cover. If you want your website to be on the cover, you will of course need to purchase a domain (website address) and then create your site. (More about this in another blog) Most traditionally published books include quotes on the cover by reviewers, so you’ll need at least a few reviews. The back cover is also a good place to put your author bio as well, so you’ll need to write one.
There are several other vital items you will need to publish your book. One of these is an ISBN. An ISBN is a number that uniquely identifies your book, and facilitates the sale of your book to bookstores (both physical and digital) as well as libraries that want to buy your book. With an ISBN, your book will be listed in Bowker Books in Print®, which is used by all major search engines and most bookstores and libraries. You will need to purchase an ISBN or have your publisher purchase one for you. You can do this online at http://goo.gl/nDZFHF You’ll also need a bar code for your printed cover. You can purchase barcodes online. There are many options, here is one http://buyabarcode.com Self-publishing companies, such as book fuel, will furnish you with a bar code when they design your cover. This bar code will be used to scan and manage your book in all types of bookstores.
That sounds like a lot, but in short you’ll need to create the print layout, the eBook files, the cover, and all the information you want on the cover. You’ll also need an ISBN and a bar code, as well as other optional items such as a website address.
It can all seem very overwhelming, but don’t give up. Take it one bite at a time and you’ll be able to complete the process. Good luck and keep writing!
Next blog post we’ll discuss the actual processes involved to post your book files and make it available for sale!