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Book Marketing - How Timing and Audience Considerations Play a Role

Written by   |   Wednesday, 23 April 2014 12:49

Book marketing is one of the core pillars of successful self-publishing, which although achievable, demands a great deal of dedication on the part of the author. It’s a major driver of book sales and if executed right, an author can keep smiling all the way to the bank for as long as they’re writing. However, there are prerequisites to successful book marketing that an author needs to address to ensure optimal return on investments.


Contrary to what some fresh entrants to the book writing business might expect, book marketing is not something to start thinking about only after finishing writing. That’s why picking an audience is a marketing decision right from the outset. With knowledge of your targeted audience, you not only know what story to write, but also how to sell it once your book is out there in the market.

In a word where ‘big data’ is one of the key definitions of dominant players in any kind of market or industry, no writer can strategize well if they know little about the backgrounds of the people who read their books. Well, a single independent author may not have all the resources for big data mining of the proportions utilized by mega corporations, but they can at least find out the location, residence, sex, career, education, etc of the markets they target.

It’s not that hard to find out info about your target audience, especially if you’re selling through an Estore with sufficient capacity for traffic analytics. You can monitor shipments as well as online eBook sales and keep track of customer info.


Timing is more of a broadly applying factor that an author needs to get right with regard to every single effort they put towards book marketing. This means that any investment or resource that’s devoted to marketing a self-published book has to be timed well to produce desired results. It’s much more like how a musician has to time well the release of a music video to promote a recently released single; a delay in the release of the video could water down its effect on promotion of the single.

In the same vein, timing implies having a grasp of what marketing or book promotion activities must happen before writing, when writing and after writing a book. There are marketing activities that only apply during a specific phase of the book production process and won’t produce desired effects if applied at the wrong time. For instance, marketing by word of mouth can have a very great effect if used when in the process of writing, especially if the author is already known. It can serve to set the market ‘mood’ right and create hype, particularly among audiences who have read a book and are keen to read the next in a popular series.
Many lovers of fiction like to be among the first to read a newly released title. Thus, rather than wait until all have had it with unsolicited spoilers, it makes perfect sense to make an impending release of a book known to potential readers beforehand. Once again, it’s all about timing!

Well, professional book formatting is also part of your marketing strategy, an area in which The Fast Fingers book formatters have unparalleled proficiency.



CreateSpace Trim Size and Bleed Specifications

Written by   |   Saturday, 19 April 2014 05:04

Proper book formatting is one of the key factors that not only enhance the chances of your paper back being accepted by CreateSpace but also give it a professional look in line with mainstream publishing standards. However, certain minute details that would fall into the category of nitty-gritty of paperback interior design play even a bigger role in ensuring your book looks as great on print as on the computer screen.

There are many areas to look at when formatting the interior of your paperback, but one major aspect that calls for serious consideration is Trim size and bleed. A paperback formatter ensures the trim size and bleed are applied such that no live elements are lost when the final paperback is produced.

Trim Size

Trim size defines the final size of a book on printing. It’s the final size of a book after it has undergone all the physical processing such as binding and trimming. For instance a trim size of (6 x 9) inches results in a final paperback that’s 6” wide and 9” high.
CreateSpace offers some level of flexibility when it comes to trim size, allowing authors to choose from a wide array of industry standards. There is also room for custom trim size when setting up your title within the CreateSpace website.

Your options include industry standards, custom trim sizes and even your own unique trim size specifications. However, your lee way with trim size is minimized by the fact trim size determines where you can make your paperback available for sale. Thus, making the wrong choice of trim size can hurt potential sales if your title is ineligible for distribution with certain preferable book stores.

Choosing the right trim size
Industry standard trim sizes allow for dimensions in inches such as 5 x 8, 8 x 10 and 8.5 x 11 among several others for black and white books. The same standard for full color titles allows trim sizes of 5.5 x 8.5 and 8.5 x 11 among several others.
While the trim size options are many, only the Industry Standard is acceptable in all CreateSpace distribution channels. A book trimmed to this standard can be sold through Amazon, your own eStore and even the platforms Expanded Distribution Channel (EDC).

Customized trim sizes allow you to create a book of a unique size, but the book cannot be sold via EDC’s Bookstores and other online distribution outlets or retailers. The same limitations apply for books sized as per the “Enter My Own Size” option.

Bleed defines elements that extend to the edge of a page. Since CreateSpace abhors excessive whitespace, it recommends use of interior or cover images with bleed that extends beyond the trim line. This ensures that no white space is seen when the final book is trimmed to size.

If you encounter difficulties fulfilling the above trim size and bleed requirements for CreateSpace, The Fast Fingers is always ready to help. Our professional paperback formatters will design your book interior and cover according to standards set by CreateSpace.

Where to Buy Stock Photos For Your Book Page Design

Written by   |   Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:51

Where to Buy Stock Photos For Your Book Page DesignSeveral factors enhance quality of a self-published book. For instance, how a book is designed in both its exterior and interior plays a role in quality. That’s why authors pay attention to paperback or eBook formatting all the time.

However, photos can be a great way to enhance a story or content of a self-published book. That’s why authors have to get it right when it comes to choice of photos to include in their titles. But since not all authors are professional photographers, there are sites offering premium stock photos that can prove very helpful in their book interior's page design and layout.
Below are links to online databases that offer high quality premium stock photos.

1. 123RF
The site offers stock images from as low as $0.21 per image. The database is searchable and claims to have “over 1,000,000 satisfied customers.” Some of the listed customers on the site include firms such as J Walter Thompson and Pixel.
The site is secured by Norton anti-virus, meaning that any files downloaded from the site are free of viruses, spyware or any other malicious software.
The site is accredited by BBB, which means you can checkout its reviews as posted by previous customers.


2. OffSet
OffSet is another online stock photo database that an author can try out for fresh ideas. The site homepage claims it offers stock imagery from award-winning artists. The pictures are high quality but relatively expensive. A spot check on A 52 MB 300 dpi photo of a mother Japanese Macaque monkey indicates a price of $500. A smaller 72 dpi version of the same photo is sold at $250 at the site.
The New York based site does not carry any customer portfolio.


3. Mira
Mira has a huge database of premium stock photos ranging from people, wildlife, beautiful scenes, and technology. The site takes you through a rather long process before you can even get to know how much a single photo costs. When you click on an image of choice, you’re taken to a window where you have to click “buy”. After that, you’re taken to window where you can select a license type, at which stage you still don’t know how much the image cost. After selecting a license type, say, commercial use, you’re taken to another window where you fill in details of territory, region, units, category etc.

But the site has a slideshow feature by means of which you can view images of a particular category.


4. DepositPhotos
DepositPhotos is a huge database of premium stock photos for wide use. The site offers two buying options. You can buy photos as needed from $0.72. The monthly subscription plan goes at $49 per month, while the daily option is $69 per month. The site gives you the option to give feedback and is accredited by BBB.


You’re invited to engage The Fast Fingers for image formatting as per the standards required by various self-publishing houses such as CreateSpace, Kindle, Apple, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble. Affordable and quality book page design services are also offered here.

Ensuring Proper InDesign Set up for Conversion to EPUB

Written by   |   Friday, 11 April 2014 05:32

While preparing your InDesign file for export to EPUB, it’s important to ensure that everything falls neatly into place on the epub conversion. You want to make sure the final eBook will open without glitches on as many devices as possible. That’s why, the epub conversion service you entrust with the responsibility should be aware of compatibility issues that may come up with more than 50 different ebook readers available.

The general ebook conversion tips below can help with preparation of a document that will easily adapt to displays on applications such as Sony Reader, Kobo eReader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks app and several others.

Text frames are converted as a single flow of text, based on how they’re appearing on a page. For best results, i.e. to be in a position to control the appearance of text upon conversion, it’s best to order text frames in a preferred pattern and then thread the frames together. You may utilize XML tags to your entire doc and place all the elements in the order you want them to appear in the final EPUB file. You can accomplish that using InDesign’s Structure pane.


InDesign has the capacity to capture basic styles and formatting into a CSS file so that these are reflected in the final epub file. Thus, the styles you have for paragraphs and characters will be retained upon conversion to EPUB. However, you could still tweak certain styling by editing the CSS file after conversion to EPUB.  

You can also adjust settings or apply features within your InDesign document such as white space and indents using the Paragraph Styles dialog box. You can also use the feature to apply space above or below specific elements in your text. Any spaces created using the tab or return/enter keys will not be shown on the final EPUB file.

Book chapters

Professional book formatters prefer to prepare each chapter as a separate EPUB file when the title in question is long and probably over 300kb. You can easily accomplish that in InDesign by splitting chapters into independent InDesign docs and compile them into an InDesign book. But you’ll have to create a new InDesign Book under the file menu and add separate chapter docs. You may then export your compiled files into an eBook.

Embedding fonts

If you’re converting into EPUB for iBooks, any fonts you embed won’t be seen in the final product as many Apple devices have their own standard fonts, although they also give readers the option of customizing fonts. But other self-publishing platforms will accept embedded fonts.


Primarily, EPUB requires image files to be in GIF or JPEG formats. InDesign has capacity to export the images in optimal quality and size, ensuring proper display on wide array of devices. The software allows you to retain image styles and formatting such as rotation after converting to EPUB.

There are deeper set up requirements for EPUBs with which professional book formatters such as The Fast Fingers can help you. Contact us for all your eBook conversion needs.

Successful Book Marketing - It All Starts with Superb Writing

Written by   |   Monday, 07 April 2014 02:26

successful book marketingBook marketing is one of the most core responsibilities for self-publishing authors, considering that not much help can come from other stakeholders in the self-publishing industry, such as publishing websites. Of course, professional book formatting is part and parcel of projecting a nice image about your literary products. Yet, marketing your title is not a one-off thing.

Book marketing involves making certain strategic moves to promote your title and making it popular with a wide audience base. But it’s of critical importance to be aware of what the first step towards successful marketing is; otherwise, you might pump lots of dollars, time and resources into expensive book marketing only to sell a few copies.

If you’re a self-publishing author and had a title off your production channels and ready for delivery into the market, you’d most certainly be considering how to cause hype around it. Since you wouldn’t be counting on exposure through CNN or a popular Sunday column with The New York Times, the key to successful marketing is to write the best book possible.

Writing a story that’s highly appealing is the first step towards winning about 90% of your marketing struggle. If you don’t get this step right, no amount marketing can save your title. In contrast, a great story that’s told to spur popularity through word of mouth can succeed without much efforts or resources going into aggressive marketing.

A mistake that many new authors make that puts a halt to growth of their careers is writing one book, stopping there and waiting to grow in popularity as they market their product online. But a successful author writes more than one book. The emphasis here is still on leveraging on the power of word of mouth to tie the success of one title to another.
Every new book you bring into the market popularizes your name and book writing business by extension. There’s also a high chance any successive titles will outperform previous ones in the market. Just like people like to watch more movies from their favorite directors or featuring an actor they like, readers like to buy more books from the same author if they already like one or several of their previous titles. This is all about building on successes of your previous books.

An even greater idea would be to serialize a story. Ever heard of Nancy Drew? Although the Nancy Drew character has been picked by more than one author over the years, readers who like stories around the character have bought several books by the authors. It all works by connecting several titles to one theme or an appealing character. This ensures that any new title in a series is bought by your current customers, even as you strive to reach out to a wider audience.

Serialization can also trigger the purchase of old titles in a series by new customers who have just read your latest title in the series.

Well, you don’t have to spend a lot of money marketing a book if you can deliver the most appealing story and learn to build on successes of your previous titles. Talk to The Fast Fingers book formatters for all your book design needs.

How Not to be Amateurish in Self-Publishing

Written by   |   Monday, 31 March 2014 09:01

Self-publishing has its own perks and challenges. While being your own boss throughout the book writing process allows you to express your talents and prowess, less supervision may expose you to blunders that can hurt your business. However, you can still strive to deliver a non-amateurish product, despite not publishing with traditional channels.

Ensure 100% perfection of your content. This involves reading the content severally, proofreading, editing and fixing all typos. Ensure the format is okay and acceptable to your intended self-publishing platform. In as much as you’d want to enjoy a level of autonomy, don’t let that prevent you from seeking professional help with editors or fellow writers. Make sure that you seek the opinion of three or more persons on the quality of your work.
Professional book formatting: You don’t want to leave anything to chance as you strive to design your book in line with acceptable standards. In this regard, you should consider your book’s cover and interior design, to create the right impression of professionalism.

Book cover design is an important component of your marketing efforts, as it’s what many readers will use to judge your work, especially if they’ve not read it before. The first thing about a cover that’s marketed for a particular audience is that it features its tastes and preferences. Some research can also help an author decide on what elements or type of cover design they should incorporate to suit the genre of their title.

Similarly, a professional cover designer can help you make the right decisions about what fonts, colors and graphics to employ. For a book with best-seller potential, a simple design with bold images and colorful but modern fonts on title and author names goes a long way. Avoid fonts such as Times New Roman which may seem too common and amateurish.

Don’t forget about image resolution as well as size. Since you’re most probably going to be marketing and even selling your title online, the image you have for your cover should be of a high resolution and legible even when reduced to thumbnail size.
Professional authors work out a good plan for how or where they’ll source images to use on book covers. For professional purposes, don’t pick an image from the internet to Photoshop and use it as though it’s your own. Originality and quality are critical in marketing your idea as original and authentic.

It also makes sense to try out several cover designs with a selected portion of your audience and evaluate their feedback. You can use the feedback for improvement to deploy a book cover that suits the desires of your target market.     

One thing independent authors need to remain aware of is that their titles are in competition with millions of others, a good portion of which is from mainstream publishing houses. This means that such authors cannot spare efforts in ensuring delivery of the most professional product.
While it’s your job to do the writing, The Fast Fingers book formatters will offer you professional book formatting and layout services to bolster the success of your writing venture.

Some Interior Specifications for CreateSpace Paperbacks

Written by   |   Tuesday, 25 March 2014 16:00

CreateSpace, being a major player in the self-publishing industry has, attracted the attention of many independent authors who wish to build their writing careers. Thus, rather than just sit there and wait for mainstream agents and publishers to approve your manuscript, you may engage CreateSpace to have a better shot at self-publishing success.

But CreateSpace has certain paperback formatting requirements which authors need to follow before their manuscripts can be accepted for publishing.


CreateSpace requires that all fonts be embedded before submission for review. The requirement applies for fonts on the cover and the interior. Thus, your paperback formatter should ensure fonts are embedded when converting a word document into eBook, which is mainly a PDF if it’s meant for CreateSpace publishing.

CreateSpace has an Interior Reviewer which attempts to fix any unembedded fonts, although the website does not guarantee that this will always have the expected outcome. The firm may also try to embed fonts while reviewing your manuscript. If some fonts fail to embed, your document will be rejected.

Thus, it’s recommended that you undertake font embedding during the conversion process to save time and other resources. The good thing is that many eBook conversion applications have an easy-to-use font embedding feature.
What if you don’t embed the fonts and somehow your manuscript is accepted for publishing? One thing is sure for unembedded fonts; these don’t appear as anticipated in the printed paperback. Besides causing errors during the printing process, the fonts may fail to print at all and send you back to square one.

Placeholder text  

Placeholder text or dummy text is that which carries characteristics of real text without conveying a particular message. It’s meant to highlight space where actual content should appear. CreateSpace requires that your manuscript contains no such text. Dummy text will appear as a bug when sent to the printer.

Crop marks

Crop marks can help during the formatting process to indicate the final appearance of a printed image after being trimmed or cropped. However, the marks can lower the quality of your printed book if they appear. That’s why CreateSpace recommends that you remove them after trimming any images or graphics in your document.


Annotations will play a critical role as you develop your content and design it to meet professional standards set by CreateSpace. These could be comments meant to guide your paperback formatter on certain preferences in style or otherwise. However, as you’d know, annotations are not meant for printing and that’s why CreateSpace removes them while reviewing your manuscript or in the platform’s Interior Reviewer.

The problem is that annotations do contribute to the appearance of the text or images, meaning that removing them might have a bearing on how your printed book appears finally. For that reason, you should ensure all content of your book is placed within the Safe Zone so that no drastic changes may seem to happen once your book is reviewed.

The Fast Fingers book formatting and layout services, who have helped many aspiring writers fulfill their dreams, can give you all help you need with interior book design.

Facts about EPUB and Publishing with iBookstore

Written by   |   Tuesday, 25 March 2014 15:30

iBookstoreIf you’re a self-publishing author targeting readers on iPad, learning about Apple’s standard for eBooks can prove handy in the long run. Apple has made it possible for users of its e-reading devices to access thousands of eBooks via the iBookstore and iBooks app. While you can leave the nitty-gritty of book formatting to professional eBook formatters, having a grasp of what’s required always goes a long way.

The EPUB is an open source standard developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).

Fundamentally, Apple publishes titles in EPUB and PDF formats which can be read via the iBooks application. However, if you wish to have your eBook available for purchase via the iBookstore, your manuscript has to be converted to the EPUB format regardless of its original design.
Many professional eBook formatters aiming at EPUB conversions like to start with Adobe InDesign. The application permits the manipulation of text, images, graphics, fonts and other live elements of a manuscript before conversion to the final eBook format. InDesign also provides room for manipulation of layouts, styling, chapters and metadata.

After interior design of an eBook and applying final touches (including embedding of fonts), InDesign lets you convert your file to the EPUB format so that you can upload it to the iBookstore.

Yet, it’s understandable why many authors who have developed proficiency in MS Word or other common word processors would hesitate to worry about software such as InDesign. The good thing is that you can always use tools such as Calibre to convert your word file to the EPUB format.  Thus, you can accomplish all the book formatting and interior design tasks within Word and then use the Calibre tool for the final conversion to eBook.

Calibre will also let you add Meta data and any other information or features you’d want carried over to the final product.

So, why is the EPUB format significant and why do book formatters recommend it to fresh entrants into the self-publishing industry? For starters, the format is acceptable to a wide array of e-reading devices and self-publishing platforms. This means that while you may be targeting the iBookstore initially, other firms such as Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords also accept EPUB formats for publishing.
But one exciting thing about working with EPUB is that the format supports reflowable content. Living in the age of rapid technological advancement, many book lovers are faced with a wide array of choices when it comes to e-reading devices. Without reflowable content, many readers would be unable to enjoy your published material if they switch to the latest devices. Thus, EPUB makes it possible to optimize content for whatever device a customer is using to read your eBook.

No wonder, the format is highly popular among self-publishing firms, eBook conversion houses and professional book formatters.

There are many book formatting applications and options out there for self-publishing authors. But it makes perfect sense to engage professional book formatters such as The Fast Fingers to be able to produce a world class title for iBookstore.


If you’ve never followed a story on TV or in a book in which “the hero dies”, you should probably try Game of Thrones. The TV show is an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel titled “A Game of Thrones.” So far, three seasons of the show have been aired and many fans are anticipating an intriguing story for season four, which premieres on HBO on April 6, 2014.

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Martin did share some clues of his plans for the story and what season four will entail. Below are some of the issues he addressed and questions he answered.

How many seasons are there for the TV show?

Martin said that even season 10 is a possibility. It could be 10 or less depending on the show’s popularity. So, how is the show going to end? Interestingly, even the author does not know. He said they’re working on season 4 because it’s been already ordered. If viewers continue to rate the show highly and a season 5 is ordered, probably a story will be developed then.

Is there going to be a movie on Game of Thrones
Martin confesses to his undying love for TV and said he has not considered turning his story into a movie. He says he was approached about the idea 10 years ago when his novels were topping best seller charts, but still decided he wasn’t going to do a movie on the story.

So, what’s new with season 4?

He gives a general picture of what to expect of his next stories. The books are getting bigger and so are the characters. Viewers should expect grown dragons to play a more prominent role in the entire story. There’s going to be more supernatural acts, burning cities and marching armies.

The author says the plot is intriguing just as it’s complicated.

…More about the dragons?

It’d be every interesting to know what exactly will be keeping the dragons looking over their shoulders for fear of their own life. Martin was asked about what creatures could possibly kill a dragon, including lion, but his answer bordered on the possibility of a dragon killing another. Is that what viewers should expect to see? Not much has been divulged in that aspect.

Is there a season 5 in the offing?

The author said he was working on season 5, and was actually involved in discussions about the plot. But he fell short of guaranteeing there is going to be one because HBO had not yet ordered it officially. He however expressed optimism about season five after a few episodes of season 4 are aired.

Any other projects besides Game of Thrones?

He said he wasn’t involved in many projects outside of Game of Thrones. However, the writer has just finished working on “The World of Ice and Fire.”

Well, if you’re an aspiring author aiming at the success of “Game of Thrones,” the Fast Fingers paperback formatters can help with your ambitions by offering the best book formatting services.

<image credit: owner>

Self-Publishing with Barnes and Noble

Written by   |   Thursday, 20 March 2014 08:39

Barnes and Noble occupies the enviable position of the largest book retailer in the USA, explaining why many fresh entrants into the self-publishing industry choose it. If you’ve ever published with Kindle, Barnes & Noble won’t be much of a hassle as eBook formatting requirements for the two are similar.

But new authors considering how to self-publish a book with Barnes & Noble often wonder what the difference is between Nook Press and PubIt, as the two platforms seem to be associated with the same functions and objectives for authors.  

Book formatting requirements for the two are the same, only that one of them is being phased out. And yes, the two platforms belong to Barnes & Noble. In an apparent move to match Kindle publishing competition, Barnes & Noble has upgraded from PubIt to Nook Press.

Thus, if you’re seeking to self-publish with Barnes & Noble, Nook Press is the platform you should consider learning about. Your Book formatter should also be familiar with standards set by the platform.

The Nook Press website lets you upload your formatted book and submit for distribution (sale) via the Barnes & Noble website.
Nook Press authors know they need to design their books in the ePub format to be accepted by Barnes & Noble. Epub is a standard eBook format that’s acceptable on a wide array of platforms. It’s open source and can be read via:

  • Nook eReading device
  • Android devices such as tabs and smart phones
  • IOS devices such as iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • Nook eReading application that’s available free of charge

However, authors who wish to deliver their titles on paperback formats may not find Barnes & Noble an ideal choice. Also, the platform does not offer print on demand distribution.

A significant difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is that editing services are not offered. Thus, Barnes & Noble does not offer editing services, meaning that as an author you need to seek the services elsewhere before submitting your eBook for publishing.

But publishing with Barnes & Noble has its own perks; for instance, royalties accruable are within the range of 40% and 65%, depending on the price you set for your title. At the same time, you’re not charged for opening and setting up a Barnes & Noble account.

The good thing with publishing with Barnes & Noble is that you’ll get to expose your title to some of the firm’s brick & mortar store customers. For instance, the platform has marketing programs such as Read In Store, where customers with the platform’s physical book stores can get to read your eBook for up to 60 minutes. That’s a sure way to popularize your title.

There’s also the sampling option, where readers are allowed to download a fraction of your eBook before purchasing it.

If you’re new to the self-publishing industry, The Fast Fingers book formatters can hold your hand as you learn your way around it. The professional book formatters will take care of your eBook design needs and ensure you submit to Nook Press a file of acceptable quality.

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