Creating an eyecatching look for my bestselling book for freelancers

As a freelance marketing copywriter for over 20 years, I work in partnership with a lot of local graphic design businesses. While I’m happy to have so many creative and reliable design partners to recommend when my clients need them, it made choosing who to work with on Survival Skills for Freelancers pretty tricky. This case study shares just some of the reasons why I believe I made the right choice.

The design partner: Maple Rock Design

With over 30 years of combined design experience, Rich Bell and Karen Mitchell at Cheltenham-based Maple Rock Design provide professional graphic design and web development services for businesses around the UK.

Having worked with Maple Rock just a few months earlier on the refresh of my own website, I knew Rich and Karen would be a safe pair of hands for my new book, so we arranged to meet to talk through some ideas.

The need

When I first got the idea for Survival Skills for Freelancers I had no clue how much was involved in the process of self-publishing! (More of a learning vertical, than a curve, I’d say, but that’s a whole other post.)

Being a writer by trade meant I had no difficulty getting to grips with the writing or editing process. Instead – much like the business end of freelance life that the book addresses – it was the many different tasks surrounding the launch that challenged me the most.

Early on in the process of writing Survival Skills for Freelancers, I spoke to a good friend of mine, speaker and coach, Robin Waite. As Robin has written and published four bestselling books, I was keen to get his advice.

One of Robin’s many tips was to get the book cover designed early on. He recommended doing so because it brings the project to life, and helps to keep you motivated throughout the process. He also stressed the importance of cover design in self-publishing success. Selling on Amazon requires getting seen in a sea of 32.8 million book titles, so it’s vital to launch with an eyecatching cover that stands out.

The solution

I arranged to meet Rich in a Cheltenham coffee shop and arrived bursting with ideas, inspiration and a huge book-design to-do list that ranged from cover design and landing page to promotional postcards – as well as integration with my copywriting website.

Looking back, our meeting was one of the highlights of the entire process of self-publishing my bestselling book for freelancers and the self-employed. We had a lively brainstorming session in which Rich was full of practical suggestions and solutions to my design challenges, and I left the meeting feeling inspired and excited for the next stage of the process.

Within a couple of days of our meeting I had drafted copy for the book’s new landing page. I was already working hard behind the scenes to drum up support for the book, but sending a summary in a Word doc just wasn’t cutting it. I needed a professional, great-looking web page to show my credibility and intent – from initial review quotes and sample content to the target audience, details of the book’s release, and where to buy.

Armed with this content, Rich created a look and feel for the landing page that I loved. A few tweaks and the page was ready to be built. And we were on our way.

In the meantime, Karen and I spoke about ideas for the cover. I’d worked up some ideas myself but they were pretty dreadful (think Shutterstock illustration with homemade typography) so I was delighted to get a professional perspective. Though Karen hadn’t designed book covers before, I trusted her to translate my aims for the book into an eyecatching design that complemented my existing branding and would stand out even when viewed as a thumbnail image.

Rather than running through heaps of different designs before settling on the final image, Karen’s initial ideas gave me enough of a steer to visualise exactly what I wanted the cover to look like. I printed out and chopped up the initial visuals, taking elements from each design and creating a new look that was bang in line with how I’d pictured the book looking.

Karen was super supportive throughout the process, creating various images that I could use to build a buzz on my social media, and even resizing the design at the last minute for the printer.

Further down the line, Rich created a postcard design that I could send out with preview copies of the book, and implemented a banner for my copywriting website which would display various review quotes at random, and which now links directly to Amazon, to help visitors to my site buy the book.

I’m in no doubt that the support I had from Maple Rock played a big part in the successful launch of Survival Skills for Freelancers. I’ve had tons of great feedback on the cover design alone, including an email from someone who designs book covers for a living. Great work from a great team.

In Maple Rock’s words…

“We’ve known Sarah for many years and have worked together on a number of projects so I was intrigued when she got in touch about her book. This project gave us the chance to demonstrate our creativity in both web and graphic design, and the opportunity to move into book cover design for the first time.

“When we started the project, we couldn’t have foreseen that Survival Skills for Freelancers would end up becoming a business bestseller! It’s great to have had the chance to work on a project that’s making a difference to the self-employed community, and Karen and I are delighted to have been involved.”

Rich Bell, Director, Maple Rock Design

Photo of the bestselling guide to self-employment, Survival Skills for Freelancers, by Sarah Townsend

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