I’ll be going to Bouchercon in September.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Bouchercon is the world’s biggest gathering of writers and lovers of crime fiction:
It’s the place we all go to discuss the genre.
Or, rather the place we used to go to discuss the genre.
Because, as Dan pointed out in his latest post, about all most authors discuss these days is ebooks.
The most read, most discussed, authors’ website on the planet is Joe Konrath’s, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing:
And what does he post about?
Day after day.
To the tune of “The Times They Are A-changin’”
Okay, I’m kidding about that.
But you’ve got to admit that Dylan might have been prescient when he wrote this one:
The times have truly changed for those who compose and perform music.
Everything's gone digital.
And now it’s happening all over again in the world of books.
Ebooks are here to stay – and they’re the great leveler.
You who have never published a book, never thought of publishing anything, can now get on the bandwagon.
Those who’ve been publishing for years and years are welcome too, particularly for your out-of-print backlists.
And those of you who have a whole bunch of rejected manuscripts should certainly hop on and find a place in the crowd.
One wagon fits all.
And what a crowd it is.
A real mixed bag.
Here’s what you have to do to join us:
Dan has already pointed out how important it is to hire an editor and a proof reader.
In addition, you’re going to need someone really good to do your conversions for the Kindle, the Nook and all the other devices.
I use Rob Siders, the same fellow Joe uses:
Last, but certainly not least, you’re going to need a cover designer.
Of course, you can do both the conversion and the cover design yourself.
If you are a multitalented, technically-savvy genius.
To highlight the challenges in the design area, I asked my cover guy, Peter Ratcliffe, to write a few words about what is required.
My experience, working in advertising agencies as an Art Director/Designer, gave me a lot of knowledge in the print process. It can be extremely hard designing for print. For starters, you really need good, quality, high resolution photos and if the budget doesn’t allow you to hire a photographer, your options are to ask a colleague for a favor – which I hate to do – or do it yourself.
Personally, I took up photography lessons and bought a quality camera.
Once you have the proper images, you need a pretty decent Mac that can handle heavy Photoshop manipulation. A psd (layered photoshop file) can take up a lot memory space. I have files with over 200 layers that weigh up to 2GB. That is only one file I’m talking about. After 10 years you can imagine how much used memory I’ve gone through.
Designing for digital purposes, the web, is a lot easier and quicker – graphically speaking – no programming involved.
The outcome, the final file, is a 567 x 850 pixel, 72 dots per inch canvas (highest resolution a computer monitor can display Vs High res. = 300 dpi), and that makes finding a suitable image a whole lot easier.
But you have to watch out for legality issues.
We designers have ways to go around them.
For example, we can turn a photo into an illustration by photo manipulation or simply by tracing the outline and filling it with different textures and colors.
Technical issues aside, the most important thing is communication.
And, in that, ebooks are no different from print books
It is the visual that draws a potential reader in, makes her/him want to take a closer look.
But don’t forget that someone’s initial exposure to your e-book cover is likely to be in thumbnail size.
So a challenge that you have with ebooks, but don’t have in print, is to make sure it has high-impact even when it’s tiny.
Check out the Kindle store, and you’ll see how many authors have covers that violate this simple rule.
And lose sales as a result.
You should always evaluate any work that is proposed to you in thumbnail size first.
If it doesn’t work there, then it simply doesn’t work.
Dialogue in the writer/designer relationship is also fundamental.
If you can’t communicate with your designer, exchange ideas, let the cover grow and take form between you, you probably have the wrong designer.
If you have any specific questions about ebook cover design that I have failed to address here, please write me though my website: http://www.peterratcliffe.com/Peter_Ratcliff_1./HP.html
I’ll be happy to get back to you with an answer.
I love working with authors!
One thing I’d like to add to what Peter has said.
You have to like what the designer does for you.
Don’t ever choose a designer whose work you don’t appreciate no matter how many prizes he might have won.
If you go to Peter’s website, you can click on the word “Work” to see some of his
Always ask to see some samples from any designer you are contemplating commissioning.
And, oh yeah, there’s the money thing. Peter charges $350 for an e-book cover.
Believe me, he’s worth every cent.
Something else he didn’t mention: his wife is a terrific editor. If you commission a cover with Peter, she’ll give you a discount.
Leighton - Monday