One of the biggest challenges you face when writing your book (after the content) is getting bogged down by the tools and 'mechanisms' needed to get it produced and ready to print.
The simplest way is to have us do it for you ;) but if you want to go the DIY route, today's show is for you. We talk about some of the tools and tips needed to get it done.
We cover the options to get your words on the page in the way you want, as well as the choices you have for cover design.
The key theme in all of this... Keep It Simple!
Remember, if you're looking to generate business from your book, then your book is not the product, and ever additional unit of energy spent on this, is not being spent elsewhere.
Focus on the 'Minimum Effective Dose' and get something out there that helps people and starts a conversation.
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Transcript: Book More Show 065
Stuart: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Book More Show. It's Stuart Bell here with Betsey Vaughn. Betsey, how's it going?
Betsey: Very good. Happy July.
Stuart: I know. It's crazy right.
Stuart: We went away for a couple of days for July 4th, and it really doesn't seem that long since Christmas.
Betsey: You know what? Somebody posted-
Stuart: Which means it's not that long to the next.
Betsey: Yeah. Somebody posted on social media, "Six months until Christmas." It was until Christmas Eve. So it was June 24th, and I thought that was just the most insane thing ever.
Stuart: Start a countdown back here.
In the UK there's not really a big holiday in the middle of the year. Kind of get a couple of public holidays in May, but it isn't anything now that's kind of ... There isn't as much of a flagpole planted as July 4th over here. It's the solstice in the middle of June that kind of stands out a little bit as the longest day. And then summer vacations for schools typically don't start until ... They've probably got another week or two in school. Until summer vacation starts, you don't tend to get that big flagpole.
So it's almost like Christmas jumps on you a little bit, because you don't tend to notice until September. Which, in a way, I think is better, because at least you get to enjoy the summer without thinking about the winter coming around too soon.
Betsey: Right. It's kind of nice to have a little holiday though in the summer. You know, kind of a little break. Not a Fourth of July on a Wednesday, I mean that just kind of messes up everything. Though I was kind of excited yesterday, because it was like-
Stuart: Almost like a weekend break in the middle-
Betsey: It was like a Monday, but then it was like a Thursday. It was Monday but it was Thursday, I was like, "Oh, gosh." And there was like a two-day workweek. It was really messes with your head, you know? So, yeah.
Stuart: Confusing. Well, there might be some people who took the holiday time to write something on their book. We were going to talk about some keep it simple things, based on a couple of the questions that we've had recently.
So let's dive into that.
Betsey: Let's do it.
Stuart: Okay, so the thing that spurred off this call, someone shot us a note asking for an InDesign version of their book that we'd done with them. And someone else, a couple of weeks ago now, he was talking about ... We were doing something on the cover, and we were talking about making some changes there.
So I thought it was a good opportunity to look at that kind of keep it simple methodology that we've got around the whole process and we talk about quite a lot. But we don't necessarily talk about the details about not so much about how we can do it, but if you're listening to this and looking to do it yourself. Just some pointers for keeping it as straightforward as possible.
I mean obviously the simplest thing you can do is get other to do it for you, but without kind of being too obvious on that, let's go through the individual steps of it and look at some of the ways of ... Even if it's not so much keeping it simple, it's not getting drawn into complexity. Which, as we've said many times before, is complexity is really the thing that kills it and slows it all down. This is where you're saying, it will be Christmas before we know it, and worst case scenario is you won't be finished with a book.
Betsey: Right, exactly. Alright, keep it simple.
Stuart: Yeah, let's look at the two steps, or the two main elements. So we've got the interior and the cover. So everything that we talk about is really modeling our own process.
There are various other ways of getting a book out there, printed, published. You could go down the route of using a local printer and binder to get it done. You could print at home in the office, in theory you can bind it yourself. But all of those things are more problematic or slow down the whole process.
So we typically talk about CreateSpace being the printer. They're a print on-demand service. You can print one copy or a thousand copies. It plugs straight into Amazon, because CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, so it makes it very easy. Fill in a couple of fields, push a button, and then you can make the book available on Amazon. Amazon does all of the fulfillment. So every stage, it's as straightforward as possible.
Now, as we've said before, you might have a different set of priorities, or you might be looking for something slightly different. If you're looking to sell the book as the product, as the thing in which you're making money, there might be cheaper alternatives.
But really, we're talking about getting the book out there as a regeneration tool, to start a conversation, collect name and address details, like we've talked about many times in the past, to lead that conversation toward being able to help people, and eventually do business with them.
So that's the setup we're going to really be talking about. CreateSpace as the printer, and the ways to keep it simple using those guys.
What I didn't do to keep the podcast simple was get a drink before I started. So I've got a thing in my voice, it's going to give out, because it's already going a little bit. I apologize if it starts getting a little bit croaky.
Where do you want to start? The inside or outside.
Betsey: Let's start inside.
Stuart: Okay, that's probably easier. Because there's fewer moving parts so it's more straightforward to get going.
So the key thing about the interior is getting the layout accurate for the print file. So each printer will have its own requirements on the dimensions of the pages, and the margins on left on right, depending on how it's being bound. But with all of the services, you'll get a document or a webpage that will talk about exactly what those requirements are. And then it's just a case of making sure that you're using the correct template or the correct layout so that the file that you create is of the right dimension, so that it gets printed and the pages are the right way 'round, and there's enough space of the edge of them for their margins and the cuts and the bleeds and all that type of thing.
So with CreateSpace, they'll provide some Word document templates that are predefined and pre-setup with the right margins. So the most straightforward way is to Google around for "CreateSpace templates", pull down the one sized to the right proportions.
And by size, we're really talking about the page size. So there's many different page formats you can select from, from the 5 x 8, which is the typical book that we produce, through bigger sizes. If you've got more content, it's usually an idea to step up to perhaps 6 x 9 is a standard size.
Because what we're typically saying to people is that the finished product, the finished physical product in this sense, you really want it a size that people believe that they can get through in a plane flight.
So we typically talk about a kind of north to south plane flight from Florida to New York. That's two and a half hours flight. By the time you've got up, eaten some peanuts, had a drink, before you need to start descending again, you've probably got about 90 minutes or so to consume some media on the flight. Whether it's you want people to read your book, or whether they're watching a movie, typically around 90 minutes or so.
So a book that ends up somewhere between kind of 35 and 55 pages is pretty much the right size to be able to consume, and understand, and get the message, and read the call to action at the back, and start thinking about what the action steps are to do now. So that when people land and get some time, they can follow through on that next action step.
So the page dimensions, 8 x 5 or 6 x 9 as two examples, you might need to manipulate the content and manipulate the size of the content so that you've got about the right number of pages. If you've got a lot of words, and you want to still keep sort of page back count, go to the bigger size. If you've got fewer words but you still want it to give the impression of a book that's worthwhile reading, go to the smaller sizes.
Does that make sense? Trying to hit that balance?
Betsey: Yes. Yeah.
Stuart: Yeah, because really, particularly around ... I mean it's obviously less of an issue on the physical book, because there isn't the same physical dimensions. But trying to orchestrate it so that the physical element ticks all the boxes gives people the impression that it's both worthwhile reading, but also easy to read. And you've got a bit of flexibility on or a couple of options to pick whatever is the right choice.
Betsey: We have this conversation, and you can hear people. When I'm speaking, people were coming on board, they're like kind of rustling things on their desks, reaching for a book to measure the size. They're always kind of, "Oh, okay, I guess you're right." In their mind, they're thinking, "5 x 8, that's small." You know? It's really not. It's a perfect size to throw in your laptop bag or your handbag or whatever. Easy read.
And like you said, 6 x 9 can get a little bit bigger. And people sometimes will challenge me, you know, on, "Oh no, I need a 6 x 9 or bigger. I need a bigger book." Like they're wanting that. But I'm saying, "You're going to have a thin book. It's not going to give the substance that you want. It's not going to give that presence."
Stuart: And if the objective is still met with a smaller book, then why not save that extra effort, save that extra cost, as we've described before, for a version update of the book later on, for a second book, looking at a second niche, a second funnel, a second cultivation. Bigger isn't always better. What you're really looking for is the objective.
That idea of the minimum effective dose in the 24 hour shaft. You can go over the top, but anything above the effective dose is effectively wasted. Anything below it isn't effective, so therefore you do need to do a little bit more. Anything above it is effort that could be better spent elsewhere.
Betsey: Yeah, absolutely.
Stuart: The 8 x 5 size, I mean if anyone's got a physical copy of their 90 Minute Book, or one of the other ones we've created. That 8 x 5 size, you do typically see 8 and 1/2 x 5 and 1/2 is a very standard size on books. So this is on the smaller side. We recommend going on the slightly smaller side of that. Not only for the pocket-ability and the feel that you can actually get it created, but it's surprising the difference that it has on the page count. Just going up that extra page will drop the page count by maybe 10 to 15 pages. And that's more detrimental than a slightly smaller trim size.
So keeping it simple. As you're sat listening to this, thinking about what you're creating, think about what the benefit of one versus the other is. Don't just go with 6 x 9 because that's what you think. Actually think about the consequences of it, and what the benefit of that is versus the downside, which is the need to create all that additional stuff.
So in the interest of keep it simple, definitely the default is the 8 x 5. And then vary from there if you happen to have something that has more content, rather than thinking, "Oh, I've got to hit this arbitrary content of getting enough content to fill a 6 x 9 book because of such-and-such reason." Because that reason probably doesn't exist.
Betsey: Yeah. That's right.
Stuart: So that's trim size. So trim size, all of the printing services will give you the dimensions. They'll typically give it as a Word document, because Word is the defacto office document, rather than Google Docs or OpenOffice or one of the others. Even Pages, we sometimes run into an issue where people are trying to push things through as Pages. That's not to say that you can't do all of those things, it's then just an additional manual step of needing to set up the right page dimensions, the right templates. So it's not worth the effort.
Microsoft Word these days, it always was historically a paid product, but they now have free tier in the Office 365. As I'm talking right now, the free tier might only be applicable on the iPad app, so you might need ... If you don't have the paid version of it, you might need to do a little bit of digging around, and it might not be quite as simple to get a free version of it. There might be some other constraints. But it's much more accessible now than it was before.
If you don't have access to Word, then you're going to be in a situation where in Google Docs or in Pages, you're trying to find a way of recreating those page margins. Again, it's not rocket science. All you need to think about is the fact that in the physical book, facing pages, so odd-number pages, 1 3 5 7 9 et cetera, will need to be shifted off to the right-hand...
Let me just think if I'm getting this right. Right-hand?
You'll need to shift it off to the right-hand side, because the margin is on the left. And the opposite is true for the even pages, the back facing pages, the margin there is on the left-hand side. So again, all of these systems, all of these tools, have a way of setting up. It's just how simple you want to keep it.
Particularly if you're looking in online forums or in publishing groups or around organizations are happy to charge more money, then some people will talk about InDesign as a layout tool.
I forget the name of the other ones, because we don't use them. I'm blanking on the name of the other one.
But anyway, InDesign is the Adobe version of it. Very popular. And that is kind of like a desktop publishing package. And it will allow you to kind of character-by-character tweak all of the format and the layout. It's great if you're doing things like magazine or newspaper layouts, where you've got columns.
Word and Pages and Google Docs ... Well, I'm not sure about Google Docs. Words and Pages at least can do columns, but it starts getting a little bit fiddly, particularly when it goes over page breaks. InDesign is great for doing that complicated, complex layout.
But thinking about keeping it simple, and this was really one of the conversations that triggered the thought for this episode, is that level of complexity is unnecessary.
So the thing that you need to create at the end of the day is a PDF with the correct margins that will go to CreateSpace or Lightening Source or one of the other printing companies. That PDF can be created in anything, as long as it's a standard PDF with embedded fonts, which typically it is if you create it.
Then, what you send them, it doesn't matter the tool in which it was created. So rather than going down the complex route of buying and learning and knowing InDesign, or finding someone externally who can do that for you which is possibly going to be more expensive, then stick to the Word documents. Because you're just talking about a body of text, paragraphs of texts. You're typically not talking about columns or strange layouts or spinning things around or having them face the other way. It's just text, so that by the far the most straightforward way of doing that is just in a Word document, and then converting the Word document to a PDF.
Make sense so far?
Betsey: It's making sense so far, yes.
Stuart: So I think the other element that kind of ties into that is...
Actually, finish that thought. So I started talking about if you go onto forums or communities of designers or publishers, they're talking about tools like that because in some circumstances, they're doing more complicated things. And in other circumstances, there's a little bit of ... There must be a term for this, but I can't think of what it is. Like kind of ingrained thinking of a particular industry. If an industry starts thinking of a particular tool in a particular way, as the kind of bare minimum, this is the tool that you need to be in our business, no one ever questions that. Again, it becomes the law of that community, where in order to do this properly in our groups, you need to be using InDesign. Which is completely not the case at all. It's perfectly adequate to use Word and create a PDF document from there.
It's like if you ever talk to mechanics, mechanics have got opinions on which vehicle you should and shouldn't buy, and they could talk to you for an hour on the pros and cons of each. But at the end of the day, pretty much every single vehicle out there, particularly these days, will get you from A to B. It's just that kind of insider's industry, "Oh yeah, oh no, I'd never do that. Oh, you don't want to do that." That type of thought around it.
Betsey: I think sometimes people like to throw around their knowledge. Like, "Oh, this is what I know." But it kind of becomes a ... Sometimes we, amongst us, go, "Okay. I know. It's something that you use." And sometimes with certain clients you can kind of feel that with them. There's a sense of like, "Oh, you don't use that." Or, "Why don't you use that?" And there's this sense of like, "Ugh, well that's what I use."
Stuart: Yeah, exactly. It's a badge of honor if you've kind of mastered this complex thing, and want to be shouting about it as much as possible, separate from the actual kind of validating the use case. Is it actually really necessary for this? Well, no, probably not.
Stuart: That's a good point. Because it ties into, as well, the thought that we have when we're helping people to do the outline of their book, and not get too tied into the industry thinking or the corporate speak of your end subject because you know it so well. A, never underestimate the simple steps, because the person that you're talking to is way earlier in the journey. And B, be very careful of getting sucked into industry language or exclusionary language.
Betsey: And that's very hard sometimes. And when you're in it every day, and you're speaking it every day, it can get very hard.
People might not know this, but I read every book that leaves our office. And so sometimes when I'm reading certain books ... You know, obviously I've picked up a lot of the language. Let's say we're talking about the financial stuff, and they're using certain terms. And at some point, I'm thinking to myself, "Well, you know, if you're just a common person who's never dealt with anything in the financial industry, you don't know what this is." And it's always something that makes me think about that. And so when people break it down and ... I don't want to say "dummy talk"-
Stuart: Dumb it down?
Betsey: But keeping it simple, I always think there's a benefit to the reader. And I think it doesn't cloud the person from reading it. They're really able to kind of read through it and understand it. And keeping it simple, there's a positive there. People really get to understand it and maybe aren't intimidated by some of the lingo.
Stuart: That's exactly right. And I think it's the same, we've talked a few times about tying it back into if you were talking to someone face-to-face at a party. If you felt talked down to or belittled, or felt like someone else was just using big words to demonstrate how clever they are, none of that is a compelling factor or element to the conversation. It's very rare that people will turn around and say, "Wow, that guy was using some really big, complicated-sounding terms. I'm very impressed by that. I want to learn more." 99% of the time, it's that, "Wow, that guy was being a bit of a ... " Well, I won't give a word. We'll keep the clean tag.
Betsey: Showing off.
Stuart: Yeah, showing off.
Stuart: Yeah, yeah, showboat. Because there is a way of sharing knowledge and positioning it at the level of the reader. And that might very complicated, because you might be writing the book for that audience, but make sure that you're considering it and not just defaulting back to insider language. But there is a way of doing it in a way that kind of leads them towards understanding how much you know and how much you can help them by positioning it at their level at the moment, and then moving in parallel with them as they're becoming more educated or understanding things more. It's a bit of a fine line, and it's very easy to feel people fall on the wrong side of it.
I think there's a flip-side of it as well. Jumping back to the point in hand and using InDesign and tools like that. If you're on a forum where people are trying to justify their own services, saying, "Oh, well it's absolutely essential, you need all of this." Because they're trying to justify their own costs or their own budgets, it's very different, again, from just saying, "Okay, well what do I need?" And go from that direction, rather than, "Oh, well you should have this, because the ends justifies the means," type thing.
Okay, so that's tools. So there are the options. So Word, we do everything in Word. The majority of our clients are corporate clients. Word is still the de facto corporate tool for getting words on a page. It's more than adequate for the job that we need to create the interiors of the book.
It makes it accessible as we're working with other people, because then they can make edits and do updates, and then don't need to run off and find additional resources. It would be very problematic and exclusionary, and we'd almost be forcing people to work with us in the future. Which we want people to work with us in the future because we're great, not because they haven't got a choice. So if we did everything in InDesign, it would be very problematic for other people to make changes. It wouldn't be simple, it wouldn't be straightforward. It would be a challenge.
So Word is the de facto one. Check into the online versions of Word and Microsoft Office 365 if you don't currently have Word.
If you are needing to use Pages or Google Docs, then the thing that you're going to need to look at is the margin, the page breaks on the left and right. Just make sure that the margin's set up and the page dimension is correct.
And lastly, just remember that a lot of the printing services, particularly CreateSpace, will provide templates for you. Definitely in Word, it will provide templates that you can use, and it's just a case of typing the words on the page in the way that you want them to look.
The other simple thing, or the other reminder to keep it simple on the layout, is not necessarily the tool as such, but just the complexity of what you're trying to stick on the page.
So we talked a couple of shows ago about what to include, kind of the layout elements, what to include and what not to include. So I don't want to harp on about that. I'll stick a link in the show notes back to that episode. I think it was episode 62, it's called "Images in Your Book." So that, we talked about some elements to include and not to include.
The only thing to add to it here in terms of keeping it simple is that simple is very relative to your own skill level. If you're a power user in Word, and you can manipulate stuff, and you're very comfortable with sections, very comfortable with headers and footers, and breaking things in the correct place, then adding some visual elements to it and moving ...
Like we do, we move the chapter headings partway down the page, so that the chapters more visually break on the page. The page numbering, we keep it very simple and straightforward, but we start the page numbering from the actual content, not just from the very first page. So little things like that help the visual experience, but it very much depends on your own level of comfort. Again, jumping back to the beginning, ask us to do it for you and then that's super straightforward, you don't need any knowledge.
But if you are doing this yourself, want to make this useful for people who are listening and trying to get this complete to themselves, I would say don't worry about it and just start from ... As long as it's consistent, it doesn't really matter whether something's included or excluded.
Typically, you would have page numbers just on the content pages, not on kind of the intro and outro type pages. But if you can only create a document that's got page numbers on every page, then that's fine. Stick with that. It's not going to significantly move the needle or slow the boat down from getting to have a conversation with people.
Likewise, with headers and footers. If you want to put your name in the top of it, I mean you can do. It's not really going to make the boat go any faster. It's not going to compel someone to take an action step with you because you've got your name on the top of every other page. But if you want to do that and it's comfortable enough for you, you're comfortable enough with headers in order to do it, and you can get them on the right page in the right position, and you really want to do it, and it makes you feel good, then crack on. But on the converse, if you can't do that, there's going to be no negative impact to that at all. So don't worry about it too much.
Visual elements in the book, kind of like underlining chapter headings, having pages always start on a facing page rather than a back page, little symbols like visual logos or icons in there. All of these things, if you're super well-comfortable with it and it will take you virtually no additional time to do it, then by all means, have at it and crack on. If you can't, don't worry about it. It's not going to slow the boat down at all. It's going to have absolute minimum negative impact on whether the person takes the next step, because it's the words that are important. So don't waste any effort on trying to do it.
The one thing that I will say is be consistent. So if you want to do it, make sure that it's consistent all the way through the book and looks exactly the same. If you aren't going to do it, don't let one of them end up in a stray place.
Betsey: Right, right, right.
Stuart: So in terms of keeping it simple, don't worry about it unless you can do it without worrying about it. And if you do do it, be consistent.
Betsey: Yeah, I mean we go through that when there's times something might get missed in layout, and when I look at it, maybe there's stars. Somebody wants double stars at the beginning of every chapter or every other chapter or every three chapters. There's no rhyme or reason. So I always have to question it, like, "Alright, let's either have every chapter." Let's just keep it simple.
But also, keeping it simple to me is not junking things up-
Stuart: Yeah, like cluttering up the page.
Betsey: Yeah, yeah.
Stuart: Particularly I think with headers and footers, and adding all of the things at the top. So some people will, or it's pretty common to see, or it's not uncommon, I guess, to see the name of the book or the name of the chapter up in the header at the top of the page on the facing page, and then on the back page, have the person's name. But really when you think about it, how does that help the reader?
Stuart: We're talking about books where the chapters are relatively short anyway, because you want to stick to the point, and then move onto the next point. It doesn't help anyone by having your name pasted all over the top of it. It's not like people are going to forget-
Betsey: Who you are.
Stuart: Yeah, exactly. And to a certain degree, even if they do forget who you are, then who cares?
It's like Deans, kind of in the realtor space, when we could compare doing a getting listings campaign, where you send out postcards to a neighborhood that doesn't really talk about you as a realtor, apart from having the contact details on there. So comparing that campaign with a typical thing that you see. Like you'll see a realtor's face and, "Jenny Jones, Getting it Done." Or, "Jenny Jones, Get Sold." And their face plastered all over a bus seat or a billboard.
We'll often use the phrase, "Do you want to be rich or famous?" Because you can spend a lot of money on ineffective things, or you can focus on things that aren't necessarily going to include your name, but actually gets to the next step, gets the job of work of the device, gets it done. It moves people onto the next stage.
I know, I mean it really junks up the page, and it doesn't add anything to the process, given that the process is trying to get people to take the step that's listed in the call to action on the back.
Betsey: Exactly. And I tend to keep things cleaner and neater, that's with the exception of my desk. But the other things, I just like a very clean look and very simple. And so yeah, when I start seeing things like that, little icons ... Even if it has to do with your brand, it doesn't need to be there. So we try to discourage it on our end from happening.
Stuart: Unless it's moving the job forward, unless it has a purpose, then it's probably better not to do it.
Just on that consistency topic, I don't think we talked about it in the last show, but a couple of the catches that we get as we look through it during that final check are things like spacing around the paragraph, not having extra spacing where you've hit kind of the return key and you haven't particularly noticed. Make sure that the style is the same on each of the paragraphs, so there's not extra spacing or a slightly different font that's cracked in. Bullets and numbering and their kind of indents that you have on each of those, make sure all of those things are consistent.
Again, if you're thinking about doing all of this yourself, in Word, make sure you turn on the non-printing characters button, so that you actually see what's behind the spaces so that it doesn't just look like spacing. You can also turn on page borders, page outlines, and table outlines, and view the printing area. So all of the invisible things that actually make up the page become visible with kind of the outline dots, so you can actually see what's going on, rather than just trusting that, "Oh, there's some space there, I'm sure it's fine."
Betsey: True, yeah.
Stuart: And all of these sort of things are, to some degree, power things in Word. The simpler you keep it, the fewer of those things you have to worry about, because you're just dealing with text.
Stuart: Okay, so that's probably good for the interior. At the end of the day, you just need the PDF creating. If you can't create a PDF from whatever document you've got, Word, Pages, and Excel ... Excel ... Word, Pages, and Google Docs all have an "Export to PDF" function on them. Particularly on macOS, I'm not so sure about Windows, but particularly on macOS they do. And so that's no problem at all.
If you're really struggling and you've got a document that you absolutely can't convert to PDF, then there's a couple of online PDF tools. One's called iLovePDF.com. Typically I don't use that, but I'm sure I've referred people to that in the past. Super straightforward. Another one's called CloudConvert, that one we do use quite a lot. Not for this particular thing, but we use it to convert other files. So those are two ways of converting the doc that you've got into a PDF.
So the cover then, the exterior. The key thing there again is sizing and bleed.
So this starts to get a little bit more complicated. It's a little bit more difficult to get a cover file, depending on how you're setting it up. So again, this ties back to what we were talking about Word. If you're very comfortable in some design tools without making it any more complicated, you've got the opportunity to do more stuff. If you're not comfortable but you still want to do it yourself, then keep it as straightforward as possible, and that will mean that some of the complexities don't need to come into play.
So dimensions. The publishers, or the printers rather, again will give you the dimensions that they need. That's typically the size of the file, or the size of the book, so 8 x 5, plus an amount of space for the spine. So depending on the number of pages you've got, the sizes of the dimensions of the spine will change slightly. Plus, they'll want a little bit of bleed area over the edge. I'm not actually technically using the right terms here, but I hope the point's coming across.
Betsey: That's okay.
Stuart: It's actually the trim area, sorry, over the edge. So when their machine's cutting it, if there's a little bit of variation on the machine, it's not going to be the end of the world.
So in terms of keeping it simple, having a solid color background on the front and back. So obviously white is the easiest, because that's just no color. So having a solid color on the background, and then having text well within the kind of edge areas of the page is the most straightforward, because then you don't need to worry so much about the trim size and things like that. Because if the trim is a little bit off, you're only doing the white background anyway.
Some people have a full image on the front. The thing to keep in mind there is make sure that the image is bigger than you need it, because of this trim issue and the bleed issue, the printers need a bit of space around the edge. So don't get any image that's just perfectly 8 x 5, because that's not going to be big enough for what you actually need.
Each printer will typically have a calculation that they'll give you in order to calculate the spine. So it will say the number of pages multiplied by a certain page depth ... Yeah, the page number multiplied by the number that they've given you for the page depth will give you the spine.
And then you've got the back cover as well.
Again, typically, most of them will want just a single image that's got the front, back, and spine all together, although some ask for them separately.
And it really is a case of keeping it straightforward. A solid color background takes away some of those issues. Having the name of the book, the subheading, the author name on the front. A single image, nice and straightforward.
There's a tool, obviously we've got in-house designers, so they're using Photoshop or Illustrator or whatever design tool is most relevant. But if you're trying to do this at home, there's an online image editor called Canva, C-A-N-V-A, which is very good. They won't specifically have the dimensions that you need, but you can enter in custom dimensions and then move margins around and things like that. So that's a very useful tool, and they've got a lot of templates, again not specifically book templates, but templates where you can insert images and different fonts. And for most people, I think if you don't have a designer or design skills, then that's probably a good place to start.
The back, we've talked at length about what should be on the back cover before. In terms of keeping in the design, the only additional thing you need to remember is there kind of a reserved area somewhere on the back cover, typically the bottom right, for the barcode. So make sure that you don't put anything in that, because it will get overwritten.
The only other thing is then just to think about the page dimensions, think about the size of the fonts, and then just think about the back cover being legible. Don't try and squeeze too much stuff in there. At the end of the day, you're not going to convince anyone to do anything just by trying to jam more words on the back. What you really want to do is give them the simple steps to kind of finish the thoughts that they had when they picked up the book in the first place, or requested the book in the first place. So again, don't get carried away trying to convince people with more words.
And the last point on the back cover is just think about the difference in the back cover text as far as we're talking about, or the job of work that we're talking about, so that's encouraging people to take the next step, versus the job of work of the back cover text on a traditional fiction book, where the job of the back cover is to give a kind of a tease or a testimonial in order to get you to buy the book in the first place. So that's typically not what we're talking about here. We're not talking about writing text on the back to talk about how good the book is. We're talking about writing text on the back that gives people the next steps so that they can continue their journey. So again, don't over-complicate it by trying to chuck too much stuff on there.
The layout of the books, and the fact that the barcode's on the bottom, typically means that there is space for either a company logo or your image to go on the bottom, depending on which way around you want to do it. You can squeeze both in there, but again, like Betsy was saying before, it starts to get a little bit jammed in. There's sometimes the risk of trying to squeeze too much in there and it looks complicates, and then it detracts from the main call to action.
But the thing to really remember is just keep in simple. If you don't have design skills, if you want to do it yourself, then Canva is a great tool. If you're not working with us to do your book but you really need someone to do your cover, then there are services like 99designs that will do kind of bespoke cover jobs. You basically put a tender down, and then people bid for the work.
Obviously the most straightforward way of doing it all is just to work with us, and then we'll take care of everything for you. So in the keeping it with the simplest then it's jump on board with us.
Stuart: That was another long bit of talking. Did that cover bit make sense, then? I think those were the main bits to keep it simple-
Stuart: I don't think we missed anything there.
Betsey: No, I don't think we did. I think you were talking about the back cover and how people tend to be a little wordy. But I was just kind of scrolling through some of our covers in our gallery, and when I looked at our covers...
And again, if our listeners happen to go to our gallery, remember that our authors have signed off on these designs. Just remember that.
Stuart: Are you trying to suggest there's no accounting for taste?
Betsey: Right. So sometimes they can get a little wordy as well. But when you look at them, some of the ones that are just very simple, you know, there's a title, there's a simple subtitle. Some may not even have an image on them. They're on single color, or one single image. Those are the ones that I'm drawn to first. And just very, very simple. Not all the glitz, not all the glam, not all the images and all the stuff coming at you. I tend to just kind of go right all over all that, you know, all the words and-
Stuart: Yeah, and again, it's going back to that thing that we were saying-
Betsey: And that just might be me. Maybe there's some ADD there, I don't know.
Stuart: Well I think there is some personal preference in it, to be sure. I think it is easy for people to think that more is more, and they've got this as like the one opportunity to stuff in as much as possible.
But like for example the difference between ... I'm trying to think of some examples. But like Walmart versus the Apple Store. The kind of less-is-more layout of the Apple Store, versus the slightly cram as much in as there as the floor space is possible in Walmart. You really get the difference, not just in terms of the position, but the clarity of message.
So Walmart is slightly overwhelming because there isn't a single message in there. When you go through that door, it's very unclear what you're supposed to do next, because there are so many different options.
The Apple Store, it's relatively ... And again, not one to compare everything to Apple, because that's a pet-peeve. But it's a store where there is a simple purpose.
There is a Tesla showroom in a mall I was in the other day, and again, that's very straightforward. There is a couple of people greeting very close to the beginning of the store. There's then two demo models of a Model 3 and a Model S. And then behind that, there's then a counter or desktop type place where there's more information. So that, it's very obvious what I do. I speak to this person first just to get the lay of the land, and probably they'll collect details. Then I get to touch and feel the thing, it's very experiential. And then after that, we start going into the details. It's not like at the beginning of the store there's all of the fact sheets on the models, and talking about usage costs and how you need to have a power station installed in-home. The details don't come first, it's the easing through the next step.
And the same with the cover. The whole purpose of the cover is to get to people to stop for a second as they're scrolling past the rest of their online life and say, "This is a thought I was having. This is a problem that I had. Here's something that is providing a solution in a straightforward way, a minimum viable commitment way to take the next step." The cover is that next step. All it needs to do is get them to take that next step.
The back cover is then exactly the same. It assumes that people have already requested it, because they've already raised their hand. So therefore they've already got that problem, they're already looking for a solution, they've already read some or all of the content. So they're at the point now that they want to take the next step. They want to be led by the hands to the next thing to do. So the back cover copy, its single purpose is to, in a minimum viable commitment way, take people, allow people, present people with the opportunity to take that next step. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing distracting, nothing new. Just take that next step.
Betsey: Right, yeah. There you go. Keep it simple.
Stuart: Alright. Yeah, exactly. Keep it simple. So let's draw end, there. Save some more for the next show. The simplest way, as we said, is to work with us. So if you are listening to this and anything was overwhelming or you just want it done for you, then head over to 90MinuteBooks.com and follow the "Get Started" links to be taken through that process, go into all the details of the actual program itself and actually get started.
If you want to read the show notes, scroll back through the transcript of the call, and pick up on any of the particular things. If you are doing this yourself and don't want us to do it for you, then there's a couple of specific points as we've put in this show. So you can scroll back through and listen again to those. So that's going to be at 90MinuteBooks.com/podcast, and then take a look at the transcript for the particular things.
And lastly probably, if you want to be a guest on the show, and we can go through your own book printing scorecard to see which of the elements you've got in hand, you're well-versed in, you've got that advanced mindset thinking, or which ones you need some help with. So be a guest on the show and we can run through your scorecard. Just head over to 90MinuteBooks.com/guest, and fill out a form in there and then we'll be in touch to get a show recorded.
I did mention then the book blueprint scorecard. So if you haven't done yours and you're interested in the eight mindsets that really lead to the most effective lead generation book, then head over to BookBlueprintScore.com. And you can complete an online scorecard yourself and measure yourself against those eight mindsets, and really get a strong feeling for which ones you're excelling in, which ones there's room for improvement.
Betsey: Awesome, very good.
Stuart: Okay. So anything I've forgotten?
Betsey: No, I think we've got it.
Stuart: Perfect. Well, in that case, it is a hot Friday here in Philadelphia. I'm going to turn the air conditioning back on, because I shut off while we were recording, and go and get a drink. And looking forward to speaking to everyone in the next one.
Betsey: Very good. Always a pleasure.
Stuart: Okay, thanks guys. Thanks Betsy, catch you later.
Betsey: Take care.