Friday, January 13, 2012

Book cover design --print vs Ebook

Book covers for print and Ebook

One of the regular tasks of a book cover designer is preparing cover images for a client’s use in promotions, website design, a whole host of things.
Today that was one of the things on my to-do list, and I prepared two JPGs, one for print and one for web use.
The book is 5.5″ x 8″, a size I’ve been using a lot recently. I ended up with two files:
  1. Hi-res—This file was 5.5″ x 8″ with 300 dots per inch (dpi, can also be considered pixels for the purpose of file size). This is the resolution that’s needed for high-quality printing.

    This gives us these dimensions for our image file:

    5.5 x 300 = 1,650 pixels
    8 x 300 = 2,400 pixels

    So the resulting file is 1,650 x 2,400 pixels, or a total of 3,960,000 pieces of data.
  2. Lo-res—This file was also 5.5″ x 8″ but it had 72 dpi, which is the resolution used for images on computer screens.

    This gives us these dimensions for our image file:

    5.5 x 72 = 396 pixels
    8 x 72 = 576 pixels

    So the resulting file is 396 x 576 pixels, or a total of 228,096 pieces of data.
Book cover file resolution

What The Figures Show

What I’m getting at is this: the print-resolution file has over 17 times more image data in it than the screen-resolution version.
I can’t think of a clearer example of what direction designers need to be thinking when coming up with covers for e-books. Browsers will be looking at 1/17th the image information available on the printed book.
Don’t fall in love with those big images you’re looking at on your monitor. Keep it simple, direct, clear. You’ll be way ahead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Find your Twitter Tribe!

Find your Twitter Tribe -from the Book Designer
Twitter, to my mind, is the most powerful and fluid of the social media utilities we have on the social web. Although Facebook is larger, it’s much more difficult to acquire a following there, since many people use Facebook for personal interactions rather than for business or research.
On Twitter, people can gain followers quickly, broadcast great ideas and links, and see their work go viral.
There are networks of people who you might want to connect with, including thought leaders in your field or vendors who might be a good match for your products or services.
There’s just one problem: how do you find them among the 100 million+ Twitter users?
Don’t give up hope, it’s not as bad as searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. To get you started, here are five ways you can research people on Twitter. Use these methods to find people to follow (who may then follow you back), to make connections, and to find discussions in which you can profitably take part.
In each case, you’ll want to check the bios of the people turned up by your searches to see who might be a good match. Gradually you’ll build up lists of people interested in your topic from many angles. Here are your search options—use one, two or all of them.
  1. Search using Twitter search—If you haven’t tried it, one of the best search engines for Twitter is the one Twitter itself provides. Use this tool to search for keywords used in your niche and to subjects that are popular right now in real time (trending topics).

    Resource: Twitter Search
  2. Follow the Followers—Look at some of the people in your niche who have already built up a healthy list of followers. Go through their follower lists to find people who you may want to follow, and who might also be interested in following you.

    Resource: Tweepz
  3. Look at Lists—Twitter Lists are a terrific way to segment the people you follow, and to create streams of tweets based around subject areas. This also makes Twitter a lot easier to use as your follower base grows. For instance, I maintain lists for both people involved in ebooks and self-publishing, two of the niches I write for. If you are also in this niche, take a look at these lists and you’ll get the idea.

    Resource: Listorious
  4. Use #Hashtags—Those funny little strings of characters people put at the end of their tweets, with the hashtag—or pound sign—in front are very useful. These tags are a way for people to signify their membership in a group, whether it’s based on an interest, or breaking news, or real-time discussion groups. It’s another way to find how people select the interest groups they belong to and make that available to you. Think of hashtags as a way to filter metadata specific to Twitter.

  5. Find Third-party programs—As Twitter has become more popular there are more third-party programs available to search tweets and people. For instance has subject matter searches that will turn up people likely to be interested in your topic.

These methods can be used all at once, of course. When you’re new on Twitter it may seem like it takes a while to build a base. But getting quality followers—people who actually engage with you and your subject matter—isn’t fast. Keep in mind this is a true digital asset you are building, and don’t worry about the numbers, they will come.
So go and find your community on Twitter, your Tribe, your peeps. Grow and prosper.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Designing an E Book Cover -not the same as print

Ebook Cover Design
The move to e-books has brought with it a new challenge for those who do book cover design, amateur and professional.
The first challenge, of course, if you’ve been designing book covers for any time, is to understand exactly what an e-book cover really is.
Unlike print books, which we can pick up and examine, e-books don’t exist in any physical reality other than as a computer file. So how can they have a cover?
And since an e-book is simply a computer file with text that will reflow to the form and shape of the reader into which it is loaded, e-books can’t be said to have any particular shape.
So when it comes time to design a cover for your e-book, it’s important to realize that the little rectangles we’re used to seeing that represent the cover of printed books are simply a convention. There’s no particular reason an e-book cover needs to be a tall rectangle, other than to announce to the potential reader that it is, in fact, a “book” of some kind.
Some retailers have even tried to mandate that e-book covers conform to the tall rectangle, which is a bit silly considering that printed books come in many shapes and sizes.
But more than anything else, designers and do-it-yourself self-publishers have to address the challenges of this new form in a way that helps them sell books.
Since we started the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards I’ve judged hundreds of e-book covers. The patterns that emerged were unmistakable.
So here they are, my guidelines for how to succeed at this important publishing task.

3 Secrets to e-Book Cover Design Success

1. Simple
This is the most important key of all. While a 6″ x 9″ printed book has 54 square inches of space to play with, an area large enough for a pretty decent painting or illustration, maybe 40 to 100 words of copy for nonfiction books, awards, blurbs, subtitles, tag lines, series logos as well as the required title and author, e-book covers do not.
The overriding fact to remember about e-book covers is the very small size they will be viewed in by people searching on the sites of e-retailers.
So simplicity becomes one of the chief virtues of successful e-book cover design. Especially if you are adapting a print book cover to your e-book, take out any elements that won’t be legible or readable at this small size. I know it’s hard, but just toss them, you’ll be happier in the end.
Keep the cover to the title, author name and one graphic that instantly communicates something about the tone or genre of the book.
2. Small
This one is super important, and makes sure that all the work you’ve put into your cover is going to pay off.
Your book will be shown in several ways on sites like Amazon, Smashwords and iBookstore. I think you really need to design for the smallest size of all, and here’s why. That size is the one that your book is displayed in when you do a search.

People who already know about your book are going to head straight for it anyway, those aren’t the people we should be concerned about. It’s the others, people looking for something but not sure exactly what, who should be your primary focus.

And that’s where the search results page comes in. If you look at a page of search results on Amazon, for instance, you’ll be presented with a screenful of tiny images and links via the book titles

If your cover disappears in this view, or it’s unreadable, or you can’t possibly tell what the image on the cover is, it’s much more likely that browsers will skim right over it to the next and the next, and your chance at making an impression on that person is gone, literally in a second or two.
When you have a design you like, get one of those Amazon or search results pages up on your screen, reduce your cover to the same size, and see how it looks compared to other books in your genre. There’s no better test than this to see if your concept is going to work.
3. Strategic
Even though your cover is going to be viewed in a small format, and even though I’ve just advised you to keep it simple, your e-book cover also has other important work to do for you in terms of branding and positioning.
This is just as true for novelists as it is for nonfiction writers, by the way. Many of the novelists who have had a lot of success with e-books are writing series of books, or several series of books, a great strategy to keep the attention of readers and build a base of fans for each release.
It’s important for your readers to be able to recognize the books in a series right away, that’s part of your series’ branding, and part of your author branding too.
In print book design, we usually consider the combination of the graphic elements on a cover with the typography of the title as making up the basic “brand” of the book. This is also true with e-books but, because we have to simplify them for online display, they have to do this work even more efficiently than their print book counterparts.
Sometimes branding can be as simple as color-coordinated covers or design elements. At other times a simple logo can be used to brand books, or a distinctive stripe along the top or bottom of the cover can bring together different looks into a branded series.
Positioning has a lot to do with how your book compares to other books in its niche or genre. Is it the deluxe version of a beginning carpentry book? The quick guide to fixing your Volkswagen? Advice for love-struck teens?
The design of your e-book cover has to reflect these differences between related books to give potential buyers the information they need to make a purchase decision. While a tiny cover image can’t do that all by itself, it is a part of your positioning strategy overall, and should coordinate with it.

Don’t Miss This

So there you have it, 3 ways to make sure your e-book cover design gets off on the right foot, helps you achieve your publishing goals, and is kind to readers and browsers.
You can see exactly what I’m talking about in our monthly competition for e-book cover designs. The posts from this competition are almost a class in what works on e-book covers—and what doesn’t.

There are hundreds of e-book covers to check out, and each one credits the designer, so it’s also like a shopping mall for people looking to hire a designer. Here’s a link to the main page where you’ll find links to all the recent competitions: e-Book Cover Design Awards.