I’m making progress on my e-publishing project – it’s an anthology of 8 short stories that have either won or been shortlisted in UK writing competitions.
The text has been formatted, uploaded to Amazon and checked in their ‘Preview’ function.
But producing the cover has been a battle (see the image on the right – I’m not sure the font is clear enough – what do you think?).
In the end I’ve created the simplest of images by taking a free photo from Stock Free Images (in return for this credit at the front of the book – © Vojsek | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos) and used GIMP software (free to download) to add the book title and my name. If anyone else is thinking of doing this, be warned that GIMP is not easy to use – I spent much time searching for help elsewhere on the internet. But it’s probably like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets. I’ve listed some of the links I used at the end of this post.
Now I need to decide on the pricing structure. Do I sell it cheap or dear?
If I price the book between 75p and £1.49 then I get 35% royalties, if I price higher than £1.49 then I get 70% royalties. So, by my calculations, pricing at £1.50 would earn me £1.05 per book and pricing at 75p would earn me around 27p per book.
Do you think if I go cheap I will sell four times as many books – or am I merely devaluing the writing?
Links to Gimp Tutorials
Re-sizing and stretching the image
#1 by Patsy on January 20, 2013 - 10:33 am
It’s difficult to know how to price them, isn’t it? I looked at other books available online that might be similar and charged the same sort of price. Of course I’ll never know if a different price might have resulted in different sales figures.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 3:43 pm
That’s probably the best way to do it, Patsy – and I suppose I can always play around with the price later if necessary.
#3 by blogaboutwriting on January 20, 2013 - 10:35 am
Sally, I think that looks really good! Agree, the text does perhaps need to stand out a smidgen – could you perhaps ‘fade out’ the background a tiny bit, so the title and your name are clearer?
As for pricing… hmm, if someone’s going to buy it, are they really going to worry about whether it’s 75p or £1.49? Both are pretty good value! Maybe it’s just me, but I’d pay the more expensive price – of course!!
Looking forward to reading it in due course. I want to do one now!!
#4 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 3:46 pm
I don’t know how to ‘fade out’, Helen! But I might change the font. Thanks for offering to pay £1.49 but I’m not sure that complete strangers will be so keen!
#5 by Liz Young on January 20, 2013 - 11:20 am
Hi Sally – the font isn’t clear enough for my eyes, but mine are particularly bad! But I also think the title is badly positioned, with “Me” right over the figure’s head like part of its hat.BTW – all the other blogs I follow I access through my own blog – can I do that with yours?Liz
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2013 09:11:08 +0000 To: email@example.com
#6 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 3:51 pm
Hi Liz – thanks for the feedback. I think the font is going to have to change and that’s a good point about the title positioning. Also – can you give me your blog address – I’m not sure what you mean about accessing through your own blog?
#7 by juliathorley on January 20, 2013 - 11:50 am
Sally, when I put my e-booklet in the Kindle store (The Little Guide to Teaching Yoga in a Gym), my son created my cover using Paint. I took my own picture and he added some text for me. Took him about 5 mins – would have taken me a fortnight! I agree with you that perhaps your cover font should be a little bolder. Maybe try a different, plainer typeface? As for price, since this is your first e-book, I’d be inclined to go cheap. Then for the next and the next and the next maybe go higher. Are you having a launch party?!
#8 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 3:53 pm
Thanks, Julia. The consensus definitely seems to be a clearer font. And maybe cheap is the way to lure people in! Haven’t got as far as the launch – but without a physical book it will all have to be virtual.
#9 by susanjanejones on January 20, 2013 - 11:53 am
It looks fab Sally, a bit like those tales of the unexpected on Sunday nights. Go for the £1.50. If you value your words, other people will too.
#10 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 3:56 pm
I remember Tales of the Unexpected, Susan, – the stories aren’t quite in that genre but there is a wide variety. Now I’m torn between your advice to value my words and Julia’s to entice them in with a cheap price.
#11 by Jacq Watkins (@mymumdom) on January 20, 2013 - 5:17 pm
This is very interesting for me as I hope to be in a similar position in a few months time.
I’m really not sure about the cover> I don’t like the colour ( red= blood?) and agree the text is poorly positioned.
I think you can fiddle with the price can’t you? I’d put it on cheap for a month or two( get it out there) then bump the price as the word spreads.
#12 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 5:48 pm
Thanks for popping by, Jacq. It looks like I’ve definitely got to work on that text – and I’ll reconsider the colour but there is blood in the first story, so it might be appropriate. Good Luck with your e-project!
#13 by Cressi on January 20, 2013 - 5:22 pm
I find the cover a bit busy, and would suggest making sure the font doesn’t cover the image. In terms of the pricing – that’s the question we all wish we knew the answer to! Why not put it on at £2.99 but run a 99p promotion?
#14 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 5:54 pm
Thanks, Cressi. At least you all seem to be agreeing on what needs changing! I hadn’t thought of going as high as £2.99 but it’s something to think about. Just had a look at your website – you obviously know what you’re talking about with regard to publishing. Thanks.
#15 by Keith Havers on January 20, 2013 - 6:38 pm
Thanks for the info, Sally. I seem to be in a minority but the cover looks fine to me.
#16 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 7:39 pm
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Keith!
#17 by Dan Purdue on January 20, 2013 - 6:55 pm
Positive: I think the cover design is quite eye-catching, and the bold colours will help it stand out.
Negative: Those ‘handwritten’ fonts are to be used with caution, and I think having all the text in that same font is a mistake. This is a common criticism of self-published cover designs – have a look at traditionally published books and see how many you can find where the title and author’s name are in the same font. It’s pretty rare.
I don’t know what the stories in the book are about, but from the cover I’d guess they were erotica or fairly steamy romance (the image has a touch of the burlesque about it). If that’s wide of the mark then you might want to reconsider your central image. It’s hard to choose a picture to represent a book of short stories – although you’ve probably made it easier for yourself by using the title of one of them for the collection, as you can focus on something that relates just to one of them.
The good thing about self- / e-publishing is that you can experiment with different covers after you’ve launched it (although I guess it wouldn’t be a great idea to mess about with it too often). Good luck!
#18 by Sally Jenkins on January 20, 2013 - 7:46 pm
Thanks for the detailed comment, Dan. The stories aren’t erotica or steamy romance so I probably have got the central image wrong. I take on board what you’re saying about the font as well. I hadn’t realised that the author’s name is usually in a different font – will put that right. But I did read somewhere that the author’s name is usually a smaller size than the title. More work to do…
#19 by Grandadcametotea.wordpress.com on January 21, 2013 - 10:28 am
Wow, there is some great advice here and – in sitting on the fence fashion – I agree with it all.
Yes at present, it is giving off a ‘steamy vibe’. That’s the red and the lady, who is a bit of a male ideal rather than a real woman. The others are right about the font too – the words are not clear enough at the moment. Keep going – I’m impressed.
#20 by Sally Jenkins on January 21, 2013 - 1:10 pm
Thanks very much. I have decided to abandon the red she-devil and go with something a bit plainer – watch this space!
#21 by Tracy Fells on January 21, 2013 - 1:59 pm
Love the red cover and agree with comments above on font etc and the image does suggest steamier themes. Pricing – can you change this? So start at £1.50, but have the option to reduce later? I’ve been buying short story collections and lots are available for 77p right now, but many cost more. Just one thought is that a weekly story mag such as PF cost 97p for 7 stories.
#22 by Sally Jenkins on January 21, 2013 - 8:29 pm
Thanks, Tracy. Good point about the price of magazines – I don’t really think I can go much higher than PF when I’m only offering 8 stories.
#23 by Debbie Young on January 21, 2013 - 10:12 pm
Hi Sally. Gosh, you have got a lot of feedback already, but here’s my two-pennorth to add to it!
Firstly, I have no idea what your stories area about, but I agree with the comment above that the current image makes it look as if they’re going to be erotica! Best advice is to seek out other books in the same genre and see what they’re doing, cover-wise. People who have enjoyed similar books, but don’t know you, will be more likely to buy yours if your cover looks like those other books. Obviously, you don’t want to just mimic them, but at least be recognisably in the same genre. It’s the same as with supermarket packaging of similar brands – it’s all about creating the right expectations in the reader. You are likely also to get better reviews if they feel they’ve got what they thought they were buying, rather than if they were looking for a “Tales of the Unexpected” type of tale and ended up with tales of light-hearted romance, or whatever.
Secondly, I agree with what others have said about the font. The font you’ve chosen is hard to read, and it’s not clear at a glance which is the title, which is the subtitle and which is the author’s name. It needs to be immediately apparent. I’d make the title bigger and fit all on one line to make it easier on the eye (it’s a short title so that shouldn’t be difficult), then make the subtitle much smaller, so it fits in a single line underneath. Go for a modern looking font that is very easy to read and sets the tone for the content, too. Hand-lettered styles like this can look a bit home-made and detract from the book’s credibility. Check out the bookshelves for your genre in your local bookshop, or online on Amazon in that category, and I’m sure something will jump out at you as being just right. Consider your cover to be the overture to the book, setting the scene and the atmosphere for what’s to follow between the covers…
Finally, I wonder if the title and subtitle are a bit of a mouthful, and wonder whether it might be more straightforward to make the subtitle “Eight Award-Winning Stories” rather than “and Seven Other Award-Winning Stories”.
But hey, you are way ahead of me, as I’m still formatting my first ebook and am way off creating the cover yet, so I feel bad for giving anything less than 100% praise! Good luck with getting to the final step and I’ll look forward to ordering my copy when it’s ready! 🙂
PS Re price – I think the different price breaks affect how much % royalty you get from Amazon – I seem to remember once it’s £2.99 or above, there’s a big jump in potential earnings per copy. But if this is your first book, I’d go low, and then raise it later – and when you’ve got other books out there for people to buy. Received wisdom is the best way to make money from self-published books is to write lots of them, pitch the first one low, then when readers are hooked on you, they will buy all you’ve written at higher prices. Sounds horribly like drug-dealing, but there it is!!
#24 by Sally Jenkins on January 22, 2013 - 1:39 pm
Thank you so much for so such a detailed response, Debbie. Your point about the subtitle being a mouthful, is an excellent one and I will definitely change that along with the font and getting rid of the ‘erotica’ image. I think you’re right about the pricing strategy too – and getting more books out there (that’s going to be the hard bit!).
#25 by margaretsmuses on January 22, 2013 - 1:34 pm
So pleased to have read your blog Sally – I certainly appreciate the information you have given as I am struggling with a front cover for my short children’s story. I think I am in the minority too – I like the cover just as it is.
#26 by Sally Jenkins on January 22, 2013 - 1:42 pm
Thanks for dropping by, Margaret. Glad you liked the cover (I did once – before all this feedback!) but it will have to change. Best wishes with your children’s book – it’s a lot harder than you think, isn’t it?
#27 by tricialo on January 24, 2013 - 10:50 am
You’ve had a lot of good advice and food for thought Sally, it’s made interesting reading. I won’t confuse with you with any more but will just add – Good Luck 🙂
#28 by Sally Jenkins on January 24, 2013 - 1:49 pm
Thanks, Trish. I have completely revamped the cover and the book will be out soon – watch this space!
#29 by Debbie W on January 24, 2013 - 9:02 pm
Hello Sally, this is a good idea of yours, to put work that has won comps or been shortlisted into a book.
I would think you should put the price higher rather than lower to start with because a lot of your friends and contacts who know your work will want to support you and will be happy to pay the higher price ie they know you’re worth it.
The fact the stories you are including are winners or shortlisted, I would think, will mean something even to those people who don’t know you, that the content is a quality read.
Perhaps later when initial sales have quietened, you could lower the price.
This is a really interesting read, btw.
#30 by Sally Jenkins on January 25, 2013 - 1:18 pm
Thanks for your comments, Debbie. I take your point about those who know me personally willinging to pay more. But I do feel a bit cheeky pushing the book anyway. So I think I would feel bad asking friends & work colleagues to pay any more than necessary when it might not be their type of book. I think I need to get more confident at marketing myself!
#31 by Debbie W on January 26, 2013 - 11:43 pm
I wouldn’t have thought you’d need to ask friends and work colleagues. You simply let them know it’s available and those that want to support you, and those who enjoy your stories, will be happy to buy it as well as pay a little more.
Why do you feel cheeky pushing the book? It’s a collection of your stories that have been recognised as being good quality. I see nothing cheeky about letting people know it’s available. People need to be Informed otherwise they won’t know it’s there. It’s not as if you’ve turned up on their doorstep with a copy in hand, strongly suggesting they buy it.
Good luck with whatever you decide and I look forward to your next blog post about this. Following it with interest.
#32 by Sally Jenkins on January 27, 2013 - 10:36 am
Debbie – thanks for your sensible advice about not feeling cheeky pushing the book. I have gone with the lower price for the moment and now my marketing campaign starts! I sent an email round at work, I’ll be posting links to my virtual launch on Talkback, Mumsnet and anywhere else I can think of. Then I’ll be working my way through my email address book. Finally, I need to get another book out there – I’ve heard that the best form of marketing is to have several books on sale to attract readers who’ve enjoyed one to try another.