Five Tips from an E-Book Cover Design Specialist

WRITERS. If you need an affordably priced custom cover designed for an e-book project, check out the services of book-cover designer James Junior. He can create designs for all sizes and formats, including (but not limited) to:

  • Kindle e-books
  • Any other e-reader (Nook, iPad, etc.)
  • Mobile screens (iPhone, etc.)
  • Print books
  • 3D eBook covers and software boxes for website display

He prides himself in on offering excellent rates and is willing to work with you until you are satisfied with the design. Get a 25% discount by mentioning that you read about James Junior’s custom cover design services on Creatives at Work.

Design ©James A. Junior

For authors who have never worked with a cover designer before, James Junior offers these tips:

Know what you are asking for. Prices vary depending on the type of format(s) you need.

Be open to the designer’s ideas. Knowing what you want is great, but give the designer some room to inject their own talent into the cover.

Be honest, not nice. If you don’t like something about your cover design, say so; after all, it is your book and your money.

Before you accept the finished cover design, make a thumbnail of it around the same size as Amazon’s thumbnails. Why? You want to make sure the text is legible at that size, and the image isn’t distorted. The thumbnail version will be the first image a reader sees. It must be clear and compelling enough to entice the reader to click on your thumbnail to see a larger version.

Three-dimensional software boxes and book covers are used on websites to reinforce the buyer’s perception that they are buying a tangible product of value, and not just a digital download. ©James A. Junior

Ask the designer for the “layered version” or PSD version of your book cover. This will come in handy later if you want to add or change a detail on the cover and the designer isn’t available.


Custom eBook/Book Covers by James Junior

James Junior: Sample Designs


Self-Publishing Coach Offers Advice on Pricing E-Books

WRITERS. How do you price an e-book? That’s a hot topic now that more and more independent authors are competing with legacy publishers. Everyone is trying to find the correct price points for fiction and non-fiction e-books in a market that Forrester Research expects to grow from $169 million in 2009 to almost $3 billion by the middle of this decade.

Cover of All Smart Cookies Can Self-Publish by Emily Hill
Emily Hill owns A.V. Harrison Publishing. To learn more about her workshops and personalized coaching, visit

In a recent press release, self-publishing coach and advocate Emily Hill shared her thoughts about e-book pricing for fiction and non-fiction e-books.

Pricing Fiction E-Books

“Except for the insatiable demand for paranormal/action stories, the fiction market is totally and completely glutted. This includes romance, westerns, young adult, and historical fiction,” states Hill. She believes e-book pricing for fiction comes down to three factors: (1) market demand; (2) the author’s emotional comfort zone; and (3) trial and error.

As fiction authors have flooded the market, Hill notes that readers must now do the job that used to belong exclusively to agents—separate the well-written manuscripts from the ones that just aren’t very good.

To get the attention of book buyers in today’s crowded marketplace, some first-time authors have resorted to giving their e-books for free—hoping to lay the foundation for future book sales.

Hill believes offering free fiction books can be a mistake: “Authors who give away their e-books and then loudly tout their ratings are frauds in my opinion. They either lack confidence in their work, don’t want to devise a marketing plan, or haven’t made friends with their fan base.” She emphasizes that, “If you are doing commercial writing (writing to make money), you should be writing to your fan base, and writing what they want to read.”

When she recently examined how the ten best-selling fiction titles for Kindle were priced, Hill found prices ranging from $0.99 to $12.99. Six of the best-selling titles were from one of the “Big Six” legacy publishers, and four were from independent publishers. The average price of e-books published by legacy publishers was $9.09, compared to either $0.99 or $2.99 for the fiction from independent publishers.

Because this sample of ten was so small, Hill consulted authors she regards as mentors for her own publishing efforts. Dean Wesley Smith advises charging $2.99 for short novels, $4.99 for a short-story collection, and $4.99 for standard-length novels. Tony Elridge suggests pricing e-books at $2.99, then using ‘book bundling’ to sell sets of titles at a higher price.

Nathan Bransford has noticed that the price of e-books have dropped dramatically over the period from June 2010 to June 2011. He has observed that when presented with two titles in the reader’s preferred genre, a reader will hit “Buy Now!” on the cheaper title, even if that title has been written by a lesser-known author, or even an unknown author or bad writer.

Best-selling independent author John Locke prices all of his e-book fiction titles at $0.99.His non-fiction book, “How I Sold 1 Million Books in Five Months,” is priced at $4.99.

Pricing Non-Fiction Books

When Hill scanned the list of 100 best-selling non-fiction titles in the Kindle Store earlier this month, the most expensive non-fiction title was priced at $7.00 and six of the top sellers were sex-related. But the Kindle Store list changes often. The top-ten best-sellers listed today (Aug. 30) range in price from $7.16 for “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young to $13.17 for “Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0” by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry.

While it’s important to price your e-book competitively, Hill urges authors not to overlook the other vital elements of book publishing and promotion. Success still requires good writing, a unique story, impeccable grammar and sentence structure, and sharp marketing. She advises writing the best book possible, and marketing it to a fan base you have already established.

Why Independent Publishing Is Growing

Emily Hill is an outspoken advocate of self-publishing and isn’t surprised that the IndiePub movement is exploding. Considering that less than 1% of emerging author’s manuscripts are selected for publication, she wonders “Why would those in the 99% agent-rejected category put themselves through the dreaded query process in the first place?” Hill believes the tough economy and diminished bookstore space caused by the closure of bookstores has made independent publishing the only alternative for most authors.

In addition to offering coaching and consulting services to independent authors, Emily Hill has written two e-books on self-publishing.

All Smart Cookies Can Self Publish” details the current landscape of the publishing industry and outlines steps necessary to publish and market books on your own. Priced at $3.95, the e-book provides practical advice such as how to insert linked-live Tables of Contents in your e-books and how to push the marketing of your e-books by embedding links to your Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages.

Hill just announced a new addition to her “All Smart Cookies” series, entitled “Making Money on eBooks: Smart Promoting.” The book features insights Hill has gained from teaching self-publishing workshops over the past two years: “You’ll learn how easy—and fun—it can be to make money by self-publishing your tips, insights, memoirs, and how-to guides.”

“Making Money on eBooks: Smart Promoting” sells for $2.99 and includes tips on marketing, promoting, and connecting your titles to the correct audience.


All Smart Cookies Can Self-Publish!: A One-Step-At-A-Time 2011 Guide to Independent Publishing (Volume 1)

E-Book: All Smart Cookies Can Self-Publish by Emily Hill

E-Book: Making Money on eBooks: Smart Promoting by Emily Hill

A.V. Harrison Publishing

L.A. Times: E-book Sales Headed for $1 Billion


Guide Encourages Writers to Cash in on Kindle Gold Rush

WRITERS. “Kindle Gold Rush: Auto Pilot Income for Writers” is a package of three guides that explain how to write e-books for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. The guides were developed by Angela Booth, who has been writing successfully since the 1970s. She offers training in copywriting, blogging, and writing for the Web.

The Kindle Direct Publishing program makes it easy for writers to become self-publishers.

According to Booth, once you understand the Kindle process, you can make money by writing and formatting e-books for others, or publish and sell works of your own. Angela has spoken with several writers who are busy retrieving and revising unpublished books from their desk drawers and uploading them. One writer uploaded eight e-books in a single day

In a recent issue of her Fab Freelance Writing Ezine, Angela made these predictions about Kindle publishing in 2012 and beyond:

  • Most freelance writers will add Kindle publishing services to those writing services they already provide to their clients. Writers will find opportunities in editing, proofreading and converting text to Kindle format.
  • Writers will be going through their archives and repurposing material for the Kindle
  • Writers will find more writing jobs on Kindle-related outsourcing sites. Some businesses are already seeing the promotional benefits of Kindle publishing.
  • Blogging writers will be developing Kindle ebooks from their blogs, as well as creating blogs that live both on the Web and the Kindle.

The “Kindle Gold Rush” package includes the following guides:

  • Publish Your E-Book with Amazon Kindle (PDF, 41 pages)
  • Write Genre Novels for Fun and Profit (PDF, 33 pages)
  • Write and Sell an E-Book: Every Writer’s Quick-Action Guide to Writing E-Books (PDF, 35 pages)

The package also includes a 14-page case study about John Locke, who is making over $100,000 a month writing digital novels. He is the first self-published author to sell a million e-books on Amazon.


Angela Booth’s Writing Genii


Opportunities and Challenges for Writers

Photo of journalist at typewriterAccording to the 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors held about 151,700 jobs in 2008 and editors held about 129,600 jobs. About 70% of writers and authors were self-employed, while 12% of editors were self-employed. The BLS expects the number of writing jobs to grow by 22,500 from 2008 to 2018, while the number of editors is expected to decline by 400.

Below are some of the key challenges and opportunities for writers today.


Global competition for freelancing  work.The rates paid to experienced freelance writers have fallen because buyers have more choices in how content is developed. Some writing is supplied by experts seeking exposure, part-timers seeking supplementary income, workers in developing countries, or readers themselves.

Erosion of standards. Easy-to-use blogging platforms make it easy for anyone to become a writer or publisher. Without an awareness of the fact-checking and copy-editing processes that helped ensure the quality and accuracy of print publications, bloggers
sometimes violate copyrights and publish unsubtantiated gossip or speculation as

Visual communications are on the rise. People are seeking less information from reading and more from videos and multimedia.  Attention spans are getting shorter, meaning that fewer people have the time or patience to read in-depth articles or longer novels.

Immediacy and search-engine optimization matter more than style or thoroughness. The non-stop demand for fresh online content rewards less detail-conscious writers who can churn out higher volumes of content at faster speeds. Creativity is less about style, and more about how to insert the best keywords into headlines, subheads, and lead paragraphs without making the copy sound stilted.

Book publishers are accepting fewer new authors. Established writers are marketed like brands.  And whether your work is published through a traditional publisher, or you choose to publish it yourself, you still must play an active role in developing and executing the marketing plan.


Multimedia Articles. Writers who can submit photographs, slideshows, and videos to accompany their articles will help make life easier for publishing companies that produce both print and online versions of their magazines. The demand for multimedia content
is likely to increase as the iPad, tablet computers, and e-readers become more

Corporate Blogging. Corporate marketing departments are becoming publishers. Instead of buying advertising in editorially independent magazines, corporations are using “content marketing” to help establish online exposure and credibility for their brands and promote two-way communications with customers. There’s so much noise from so many
different companies that some corporations are starting to recognize the need for
quality content that can help set them apart.

Independent Blogging. Editorially independent bloggers are becoming more influential, because readers sometimes need and want broader coverage of a certain topic than a corporate marketing department might want to provide in their own blogs. Corporate marketing managers have different objectives than professional journalists and

Self-Publishing. It’s becoming increasingly affordable for writers to publish and promote their own e-books and small quantities of printed books and magazines. Some self-published writers who built a following for their work later signed contracts with major publishing companies.

The Gig Economy.  Freelancing is becoming the new norm. A Business Week cover story noted that rather than hire full-time employees, many companies are assembling “virtual teams” of employees on a project-by-project basis.  Former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown (now of The Daily Beast) coined the term “The Gig Economy” to describe the growing trend. She observed that former staff journalists are now earning a decent
living by juggling a collection of free-floating projects, consultancies, and part-time assignments. Although full-time writing jobs are still concentrated in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, DC, advances in communications technology have made it easier for freelance writers to work anywhere they choose.

Constant demand for fresh content. Now that consumers stay constantly connected to the Internet via their smartphones, they are expecting a constant stream of fresh content, whether it’s for educational or entertainment purposes.