Category Archives for Book Creation

Formatting with Scrivener

March 21, 2016

You’ve finished your book, and have decided to self-publish it!

It’s a wonderful, exciting step forward after all the work of writing, editing, rewriting, re-editing, and in essence doing everything you can to make sure your book is perfect. You’ve gotten a book cover for your book, and it’s so pretty, you can just gaze at the art for hours.

Now, though, it’s time to format and upload that book.

While formatting itself is not hard, per se, but it is a bit time consuming and can be frustrating.

Be prepared, no matter how you do it, to re-do that first book several times until you get it right.

Don’t get mad at yourself for having to do it again.

It’s so hard not to–I know, trust me–but like anything, with practice you’ll find a way that works best for you.

I choose to use Scrivener to compile my finished books into an .epub file before I upload. (Scrivener is available for PC or Mac, and is very reasonably priced). This is not the only use for Scrivener–it has a very nice writing program and story organization (binder), also it never “trashes” anything, just moves it out of the way.

Working in Scrivener is very simple. Like in any program, it has a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to use.

Simply put:

  1. You start a new file (a project), and Scrivener has multiple premade templates to use, depending on what you’ve written (fiction, fiction in parts, non-fiction, etc.).
  1. You import your file. You can import multiple word processing file types. Also, be sure to upload your cover art into the program so you can put it in the finished document.
  1. Split your document into chapters and/or scenes. Scrivener allows for making each chapter a folder and putting each scene in each file.

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The Value of Rebranding a Series

March 14, 2016

At first glance, some people might read the title and think, “This is a blog about marketing. How will changing covers market my books?” Well, the answer is quite simple—your cover is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.

Think about it. You could have the hottest new story to take the world by storm, but if your cover doesn’t covey the genre and/or tone of the book, it may never be discovered. On top of that, if your cover doesn’t catch the eye, a potential reader won’t click to learn more. And I’m not just talking about on online vendor sites (although that’s important). The whole point of any Facebook ad, email marketing ad, and so on is to catch the impulse buys. But if your cover is ugly, unreadable, and tells me it’s chick lit when I’m looking for paranormal, then you have a problem.

I have experience rebranding two series. One was drastic, where I changed cover artists and she came up with a brand new style. The other rebranding was minor, with me taking my serial boxed sets and repackaging them as novels. Both times, my sales increased afterward. Not only that, but my serial rebranding helped lessen the confusion about the reading order of my series. The last thing you want to do is make it more difficult for a reader to find the next book to buy!

So, when should you rebrand? I can’t give you a definitive answer since I don’t know your sales figures or book(s). However, all of the following could be signs it’s time to rebrand your series:

  • If the covers in your genre shift dramatically, you might want to update yours to better match. Think about romance covers from the 1980s and compare them to today. You definitely don’t want to stick out in a bad way!
  • Readers leave reviews along the lines of, “The cover mislead me about the tone of the book.” Or, “The cover has nothing to do with the story. I thought I was getting subgenre XYZ and it’s really more subgenre ABC.” You want the right readers clicking your book, or they’ll stop reading and won’t buy the rest of your series.
  • Your sales have declined beyond a seasonal slump. A new look could help attract a new kind of reader.

So, take a look at your covers and decide if rebranding your series might be a good option.

Note: Some people may even change the titles of their books when rebranding, and that’s more than fine. Just make sure to put a note somewhere, “This book was previously titled NAME” to avoid confusion!

Vellum – Ebook Formatting for Authors

Interview with the creators of Vellum: Brad Andalman and Brad West by Michelle M. Pillow

Book formatting has improved by leaps and bounds over the last several years for DIY authors. In 2008 I remember staring at html coding to fix book errors, and utilizing multiple book generators to get all the formats I needed for all the vendors who had different requirements. It could be a time consuming nightmare. (Let me just say, zipped html file to make a kindle mobi). Then, I had to hope that the vendor's grinder took the book and didn't mess up the tweaks I'd made. And then, I'd have to hope that a vendor didn't suddenly change a requirement or a device feature that made me have to go re-format backlist all over again. Yes, that nightmare happened on a couple occasions. Nothing like three straight days reformatting 75 gazillion books. (I may be exaggerating a little on the number)


Luckily, times they are a changin'. I've used darn near every program that's come on the market over the years, and (if you happen to be a MAC user) Vellum is one of my favorites.  It's fairly simple to use, has a fast learning curve, and the best part is they continually do updates to the program to keep it up-to-date with vendor standards. So, say Amazon decides they suddenly want all the TOCs (table of contents) to include a picture of a peanut butter sandwich, I'm pretty sure the Vellum guys would make that update happen. Why is that important? Because instead of my having to redo an entire book or mess with html coding, I simply open Vellum and re-generate the book file in a matter of seconds, upload and done!

Another thing worth mentioning about this company: The few times I've had questions or concerns, their customer service has been great about getting back to me with an answer.​

The two creators of Vellum were nice enough to answer some questions about their software.

Thank you, Brad and Brad, for taking the time to talk to us.

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Who To Hire For Ad Design & Graphics

November 9, 2015

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to create your own ads to promote your books, you might be interested in working with a great visual graphic designer.  Graphic designers do more than just create eBook and Print covers. They can use the covers they’ve created or different images entirely, to help you advertise your personal books in ways you might not have a imagined.

Here is a list of excellent graphic designers who will work with you to create the ads you desire. Designers, if you want to be added to the original post leave a comment.

*All images are the property of their respective designers/design clients, these are just some examples of their work*

Bookish Publicity

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Secret Statistics of Best Selling Paranormal Romance Book Covers

October 19, 2015


As a book cover designer and author, I spend a look of time thinking about that few pixels of real estate on your book’s page known as an “ebook cover”.  It’s long been my mission to find the sweet spot between making those pixels sell your book and be a beautiful piece of design — if not art. While I spend a lot of time improving my skills relating to the latter, tutorials, books, software, etc, I realized that when it comes to knowing what makes an ebook cover sell books, I had been relying only on my observation and the wisdom of others.

That’s good.

But it’s not enough.

So, I hired my brother to go through the Top 100 of Amazon’s best-selling ebooks by category with the mission of sussing out the truth of what best-selling ebook covers have in common. Because I write paranormal romance, I decided by examining paranormal romance book covers.

But before we plunge into what I found, a few notes. First, this data was taken on one day. Second, this data set encompasses only 100 covers, not a large enough sample size to say anything with 100% certainty. And third, this data was taken from Amazon — so it may not be as applicable to other vendors. For those curious the full data set can be found here, where I posted an abridged version of this post. But only at RAMN can you see all the visualizations.

Alrighty, let’s get to the goodies!!

First, I examined who exactly is /on/ PNR romance book covers in the top 100. The answers weren’t that unexpected.

To no one’s surprise here, the man comes out on top. But he doesn’t dominate completely, over a quarter of the book covers had a couple, and 12% had a woman. For me, I’m taking this as a tenet that man on a book cover is a strong selling tool for PNR, and it’s something I’ll be encouraging my clients to have. I think one thing to avoid, unless you’re Nora Roberts, is plain scenery without any human element on it for romance.

Now to perhaps one of the more controversial opinions: shirtless men. Of the men on covers (which was about 57% percent of all covers in the top 100%) 68% percent of them were shirtless. Now! This may seem like a number big enough to be a mandate, but when you actually crunch the numbers it’s not all that clear. 68% of 57%, is only 38.7%, so while that does mean over a 1/3 of PNR covers have a shirtless guy on them, that’s hardly the 100%.  The logical next question is, other than shirtless guys how can we measure “heat content on cover”. For my next foray into data gathering, I looked at things like physical content, amount of clothes worn, sexual provocativeness and gave each cover a score between 0-3. 0 Being no romantic content at all, 1, being some light, sweet romantic content, 2, being a shirtless man with abs covered or a couple kissing clothed, 3 being a shirtless man with underwear visible or a couple in underwear kissing passionately.

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Publishing Checklist

I built this for myself as a checklist for things to make sure and get done with every book release. With everything I’ve learned from this amazing group, I thought a concise list would help me, and then anyone else who wanted to use it, hit as many of the “must do” things before a book releases.


Publishing Checklist:

  1. Finish the book.
    1. Put it away for a week, let it rest.
    2. Send to beta readers for feedback
    3. Write Promo
      1. Blurb
      2. Tagline,
      3. Synopsis

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How Canadians can obtain an ISBN

December 15, 2014

Canadians can obtain an ISBN for their books for free.

You need to register first (it can take a week or so to get that all in order)

Once you have a log-in ID, you can apply for a block of ISBNs (at no cost.)

This rest of the information came from an inquiry to  because entering the information for a digital release can be confusing.

The CISS System isn’t linked to anything. No one else can see your logbook!


How to Assign an ISBN Number

– Login with your username & password at: <> &lang=eng

– Click MANAGE LOGBOOK (in the red block on the left)

– Click ASSIGN NEW ISBN (in the white space, middle of page)

– Input your book’s publication information:

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Font Resources

November 16, 2014

Here are lists of font resources. Make sure you check the licensing for each individual font before you use.  Some websites may say all are free for commercial use, but you have to look carefully!!





How to Make a Box-Set Image in Six Easy Steps

November 16, 2014

How to create a box-set in six easy steps. (Requires photoshop.)

1.) Download the following photoshop action:
2.) Place your cover image on the place labeled cover and your spine on the place labeled spine.
3.) Create one box.
4.) Repeat steps 2+3 for each of your titles.
5.) Drag and drop the each of your books into a single document. Then line up each of the boxes in a row and “shrink” them until all of the tops and bottome line up. (You may have to squeeze and pull here and there.
6.) Voila! You have a box set that looks like this: