Month: September 2023

Book cover advice for self-published authors

This advice pertains mostly to Fiction titles, but aspects will also apply to non-fiction.

Furthermore, you can choose to ignore anything if you like! This advice is purely based on thousands of book covers seen in the course of a decade or so of buying books for the City Library. But look up the original cover for The Martian by Andy Weir and you’ll see that it’s possible to do really well with a pretty average cover.

In general, looking at successful books in your genre will provide a useful guide. Subtle and not-so-subtle design cues tell readers what to expect from a book, and will signal whether it’s science fiction, romance, or thriller.

In addition, sometimes design goes in phases. Maybe cosy mysteries are all illustrated pictures this year but next year they’re more about photorealism. Keep an eye on what’s happening in your genre.

If you’re not sure what genre you’re writing in, you need to find out. Ask some friends to tell you what they think, or put the question to your newsletter subscribers.

There are groups you can join where people will critique your cover and provide suggestions to improve it. Following these groups for a while before you post anything is a great way to learn, before committing to a cover.

Covers nowadays need to look good in a thumbnail – a small image on a cellphone might be the only thing that a prospective buyer gets to see. So the book title, author name and image all need to work well even if shrunk down.

If you’re good at design you might be able to do it yourself, but book covers are a very specific thing, and your skills may not transfer. If possible, hire a book cover designer with experience in your genre. You might also find something suitable as a “pre-made”. Pre-mades are mockups with placeholder titles – once you’ve bought it the designer will add your title and author name. They may also allow one or two small changes to the design, sometimes at extra cost, sometimes included in the price.

Many people are using Artificial Intelligence to create covers, or assist with the creation. It might be impossible to copyright an AI-created cover, as elements or styles might have been sourced from other artists. At time of writing, AI-assisted covers seem to be pretty safe, but it’s something you should definitely check up on before committing to a print run or even releasing an ebook. It could be a very costly mistake.

The actual size/aspect ratio of your cover for an ebook is quite straightforward, but for a print book you might need to allow bleed at the edges, and you also need to know the thickness of the spine. This will depend on the formatting of your text. If you change font size you’ll need to recalculate the spine width. And if you change the type of paper, this will also affect the spine width. Being two millimetres out can make the cover look unprofessional. There are tools online to help you calculate this, and then you can provide your designer with a template. Just make sure you don’t want to make any changes or you’ll probably incur extra cost! Even changing the wording in a few paragraphs could potentially bump the page count up or down.

Covers for audiobooks are in a different aspect ratio than for books. If you’re using a cover designer (recommended) then this will probably cost extra. Again, it will be worth it because a designer will be able to rearrange all the original elements without distorting them.

Whatever you do, remember that the cover tells people a lot about your book before they even open a page. If you want to be seen as a professional author you need a professionally-designed cover.

The best place to see a whole lot of covers to get an idea? The City Library, of course!

If you have any questions on this, feel free to contact us.

Versions Tuawhā update

Kia ora!

Submissions for this year’s Versions project have closed, and we’re working on editing and proofing, getting ready to publish later in the year. Warmest thanks to everyone who submitted some of their creative work.

In this, the fourth year, we’ve had more submissions than ever before – hooray!

If you want a fun creative project, keep your eye out for the announcement of next year’s Versions submissions. You can write a short story, flash fiction, a poem, a play, a song — we even had a visual arts submission this year!

This is a great way to become a published author – we give you a prompt, you write something, and we take care of all the rest. Then we have a book launch where you can come and celebrate being part of the project.

It’s fun, there’s no pressure, and it might just inspire you to create something else.

If you have any questions about Versions, email content@pncc.govt.nz

Latin America & Spain Film Festival

The 21st Latin America and Spain Film Festival runs from the 7th to the 24th of September and includes movies from Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico and Argentina. The selection includes a wide range of genres, topics and styles, giving you the chance of feeling closer to Latin American and Spanish histories and cultures through the lenses of great film makers and artists.

See the programme here.

Chinese Language week

New Zealand Chinese Language Week 17-23rd September 

New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW) was first launched in 2014 designed to increase Chinese Language learning in New Zealand. NZCLW seeks to bridge the cultural and linguistic gap by delivering fun and practical initiatives that encourage people to learn Chinese. Celebrate this year with our local Chinese organisations who have organised an exciting range of activities in the city. 

At Central library 

Sunday 17th September 

An afternoon with PN Chinese School  

1.30pm-3.30pm 

Calligraphy, storytelling and crafting workshops.

First Floor, Children’s area 

Raising Bilingual kids in Chinese Culture 

1.15-2.15pm 

Presentation with guest speaker Melody Chang. Run by the Manawatū Chinese Association, Active Learning.  

All parents welcome.

Oroua Room, Ground Floor 

17th September- 23rd September 

Student Work Exhibition 

Come and see what the PN Chinese School have been working on! 

First Floor, across from the Community Languages area 

Display by Manawatū Chinese Association 

Learn more about Cantonese Language! 

First Floor, across from the Community Languages area 

As part of NZCLW 2023 the book ‘Weka’s Waiata’ by Nikki Robinson has been published in Mandarin Chinese, te reo Māori and English. It’s a trilingual children’s book!

“Together We Read” on Libby

From Sep 27 to Oct 11, there’s a programme called “Together We Read” on Libby, which lets multiple people read/listen to the same title at the same time – no wait lists!

This year the featured title is Aotearoa-based author Charity Norman’s Remember Me.

In Remember Me, Emily Kirkland returns to New Zealand to care for her father, who suffers from dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time – and to glimpse shattering truths about his past. Truths she’d rather were kept buried.

The ebook and audiobook can be read on all major computers and devices, including iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phones and tablets, Kobo® tablets and eReaders, and Chromebook™ and there are no waiting lists or holds. The title will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, and there are no fines for late return.

Find out more about Libby here.

See more about Together We Read here.

Or pop in and see us!

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 11-17 September

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha tēnā tātou katoa. E mihi ana ki te mana whenua, Rangitāne o Manawatū, tēnā koutou.

Here at the Palmerston North City Library we celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 11-17 September and Mahuru Māori 15 Sep-15 Oct with activities and resources to assist you on your pathway to learning te reo Māori.

Come in and find a book, join in with our PNCC waiata group-Manu Hāpai, or maybe have a Kōrero Kawhe-Coffee Chat.

Activities during Te Wiki o te Reo 11-17th September:

Pātara Wai – Water Bottle Giveaway

Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori – Māori Language Moment

Check out the City Library’s Kaupapa Māori webpage: www.citylibrary.pncc.govt.nz/kaupapa-maori