Monday, March 25, 2013

Today's post has three titles:
(1) A book about book covers shouldn't be ugly.
(2) Even a flawed book is worth more than zero.
(3) Keep evangelism out of books for a general audience.

(Number One) Charity Milan's How to Make a Kindle Book Cover: Step-by-Step Instructions to Make High-Impact e-Book Covers with Photoshop Elements 11 has excellent -- and needed -- help for using Photoshop Elements. 

Sure, we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there's no accounting for taste. However, I think the cover of this book looks like shit and I doubt that I'm the only one with this opinion.

The author (whose name is not really Charity Milan) says, "A good cover is your book’s calling card." It seems like she's calling on me to throw up.

With unintended irony, she tells us that books "that purport to teach me how to create covers for Kindle devices and have crappy covers themselves, those I skip."

Maybe "Charity" deliberately tried to make the worst-looking cover possible, possibly to attract attention and elicit comments.

Here's one comment from someone on a Facebook group for authors (the prime audience for the book): "A dreadful cover, too busy and relies on very poor Photoshop techniques."

Message to authors: a books about graphic design should have good design.

(Number Two) The book has a "Digital List Price" of $2.99. I paid zero dollars and no cents for it. It's been available for free for several years.

I'm human. I like to save money -- but I have mixed feelings about free books.

Lots of authors have used freebies to build readership and to achieve high positions in Amazon sales rankings. I think free books are appropriate to elect a candidate and maybe to convert 'heathens.' Jehovah's Witnesses have apparently achieved success by giving away millions of free publications.

However, I think that free books generally demean their authors, and maybe authorship in general. My books have sold for prices ranging up to $29.95. I sell a group of small "samplers" as buck books. I also offer a couple of samplers at 99 cents each. I hope they'll entice readers to buy other books I've written. 'Selling' for zero just seems too pathetic and desperate to me. I'm not that desperate, yet.

There's at least one serious error in Charity's book. The author says that Amazon doesn't want hyperlinks in Kindle books. My Kindle books have lots of links, and Amazon has never complained. Linking is a great advantage of ebooks over pbooks. Charity provides links for and her own author page on Amazon. Maybe she intended to delete them.

This book apparently was not edited by anyone other than the author. That's not good for a book about publishing. The author says she spent $128 for a stock photo. It would have been better if she bought an $8 photo and paid a college journalism major $120 for copyediting.

There are some easily fixed page formatting problems, too.

And there was a silly problem in the Amazon promotional text. The author said she has "printed plenty of Kindle books under a plethora of pen names." Publishing Kindle ebooks does not mean printing them.

The book is worth much more than the free price, and even more than the regular $2.99 price. It's certainly worth $4.99 -- but it needs to be cleaned up a bit.

If authors think that people won't complain about books they got for free, they're wrong.

Message to authors: a good book doesn't have to be given away, but make good books.

(Number Three) The author says she is "a God-fearing Christian." That's OK, but not not all readers want to hear preaching about the power of the Holy Ghost or Christ Jesus while learning how to use software.

It seemed creepy and made me uncomfortable. I want to get more out of Photoshop Elements. I'm Jewish. The strong subconscious message is that this book is NOT FOR ME.

Message to authors: if you want to attract readers and get good reviews, eliminate  religious and political preaching that may turn people off.

For what it's worth, Charity Milan's other book includes her history as a masturbator and has lots of links. Maybe "Jane Jerkoff" would be a more appropriate pseudonym for that book.

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