Resources for Upcoming Authors

You have completed the first (or second, third, or fourth) draft/rewrite of your book. In your opinion, the story is almost ready to be released (or, in some of our cases, unleashed) into the world. So…what now? Where do you go from here?

The concept of publishing a book can be daunting. What so many writers do not realize is there are multiple steps one must scale before their book is actually ready to publish.

Coming from the combined perspectives of author, reader, editor, and designer, I am presenting a list of of resources for everything from formatting to cover design, from swag to editing services, and more.


Editing is crucial for your book. I was recently in a local bookstore and the owner mentioned an indie author who, “Had multiple typos on every page”. The reason? The author had his “friend” edit the book. By friend, I mean a ninety-year-old, well-intentioned man who spends most of his time at the gym. Yes, I do know who this author is. And I know who the “editor” is, as well.

This was a cringe moment for me. For so long, indie authors have been seen as the “lowlifes” of the publishing world, and a certain stigma was applied to indie authors–and sometimes for good reason. Only in the past seven years or so has indie publishing become respected in some circles. We still have that stigma to break, and one way to accomplish that is to have your book edited by a quality editor.

Some editors charge an arm and leg. Others prefer to take a lung and your remaining foot as well. I’m not saying editors don’t deserve to be compensated for their work and time. They do. I’m merely stating some prices are exorbitant. I know I, for one, couldn’t afford to pay $500 to have an 80,000 word book proofread.

Few writers can thoroughly edit their own work. We’re too close to the story, which makes it harder to catch those pesky typos

Two editors I know are thorough are Mountain Peak Edits & Design and Kendra E. Ardnek. Both are affordable and offer quality editing services.

Nota Bene One:

There are many different types of editing, so do your research and determine which would best benefit you and your book.

Nota Bene Two:

Editors are human. It is almost impossible for us to catch every typo in a longer story. We will catch at least 97%, which is why it is important to have an editor go over your work.


Just what is formatting? Book formatting consists of the title page, copywrite page, margins, gutter, font size, placement, scene breaks, text justification, and, ultimately, book length. For ebooks, formatting also includes the TOC–Table of Contents. There is a lot that goes into formatting books, and it can be a lengthy and headache-inducing process. Alas, book formatting is a necessary evil.

Before you secure your paperback wrap cover, you’ll need the page count…which is determined after paperback formatting is complete.

There are a few methods for formatting:


I used Word to format DECEIVED, which is 90,000 words long. The thought of formatting IRON (97,000) and Shattered Reflection (113,000) makes me nauseous.


It’s free to format in Word, and ebook formatting is fairly quick and simple enough.If you’re able to format in Word, you don’t need to pay a formatter.


  • It is a lengthy process, which can take days if your book is longer than 50,000 words.
  • The justification of text can cause issues, such as gaps and odd placements.
  • There are plenty of ways to inadvertently cause errors and other formatting issues, such as Chapter Ten beginning on the last page of Chapter Nine.
  • Spacing for chapter titles and numbers, subtitles or character names, and days and dates is time-consuming if you want them to match. Even then, it is not a guarantee.


I’m fairly new to Atticus, and broke myself into it by using the program to format IRON for both ebook and paperback.


  • You have oodles of layouts at your fingertips, and even more possibilities if you’re keen on designing a format specific to your book (which is what I did for IRON).
  • The end product looks clean and professional.
  • It automatically generates epub and PDF if you so desire.
  • The gutters, margins, and indents can be altered without issue.
  • The amount of manual labor involved is minimal compared to Word.
  • It’s affordable, with a one time price of around $150. Included is a 30-day refund if you find Atticus isn’t for you.
  • It automatically inserts your desired scene break design. Just include it in your pre-format, keep three asterisks in the manuscript your upload, and voila. There you go.


  • There is quite a learning curve involved, which can take a few hours to get a grasp on.
  • Atticus is new, so some kinks are still being worked out, although I didn’t notice any real problems while formatting.
  • The front matter and back matter can be the most time-consuming and can cause some frustration.
  • The offered fonts can be iffy. The body text font I recommend is Spectral.
  • The gutters and margins are always pre-set too low, and you need to increase them by at least two clicks.

Formatters I Recommend:

Jon Stewart – I haven’t personally worked with Jon, but I do know he did an excellent job formatting Love in Disguise by Penny Zeller; I was also told he has excellent customer service and is easy to work with.

Kathryn with Hannah Linder Designs – Same as with Jon: I haven’t personally worked with Kathryn, but I do know she did a good job on Love Under Construction by Penny Zeller.

Mountain Peak Edits & Design – Formatted DECEIVED and IRON by yours truly.

Cover Design

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”, is the common cry. And, while that does have merit on some occasions (like traditional authors who don’t always have a say) ,we all know we do, in fact, judge books based on their covers. This is why it is so important to have a good cover, whether designed by yourself or a professional.

If you do design your own cover, please, please, please gather feedback before displaying it to the world. I’ve seen some self-designed covers and–not to be rude–and they’re cringe-worthy. I’m not saying not to design your own cover, as there are many indie authors with an eye for design. I’m merely recommending you receive feedback.

Designing your own cover:

There are many aspects to consider when designing your own cover: layout, flow, distance, genre, models, font, colors, and the “message” or “feeling” you want your cover to impart.

You don’t want flowy, elegant font on a book about how to write a will, just as you don’t want dull, boring sans serif font (yes, I am generally against sans serif) on a romance cover for the title. The font itself imparts an indication of what the book’s feel is. Look at other books in the same genre and take note of the fonts used.

Layout, flow, and distance are all problems I’ve noticed on many indie covers. Just yesterday, I saw a cover where the baby was as big as the woman. It wasn’t good. Take distance into consideration: babies are smaller, objects that farther away are smaller than those up close, and please, for sanity’s sake, don’t have the shadowed side of the model facing the sun! That’s completely incorrect.

Models, models, models. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but I have to be honest: if I see a guy with more fur on his face than a bear has during wintertime, I’m done. I’m not touching your book. Just be careful when selecting your models. Please.They can turn readers off.

Other Do’s:

  • Consider font colors: Do they match? Are they aesthetically pleasing (no neon colors, please). Keep in mind the meaning of colors as well. Pastels and light neutrals are more sweetly-romantic. Red has the potential to indicate a certain…air you might not want your book cover to impart, so use that carefully. Black is an all-around color.
  • Keep everything within a layout–your font should be on the cover instead of bleeding off, it should be off the characters’ faces, your characters should be sized appropriately (no babies being just as large as the women). Beware textboxes. They either look good or chintzy.
  • Do have your models dressed tastefully. Please. I beg you.

Other Don’ts:

  • Don’t just slap a model on the cover and call it good. Most need blending, shadow adjustment, and possibly size reduction. Not all (take Love from Afar by Penny Zeller, for example) but most do.
  • Don’t have your male models go shirtless. I don’t care how ripped and muscular he is. He. Needs. A . Shirt.
  • Don’t have your female model’s junk be spilling out of the trunk. If you find a model’s head that is attached to a body with more skin uncovered than covered, just transpose the head onto a different body (it’s harder than it sounds, but it’s quite doable). This may land me in some hot water because you may know the cover I’m referencing, but I frankly don’t care because this needs to be said. I’ve seen one such cover floating around. The book is written by a faith-professing author. The model’s cleavage is billowing over the top of the bodice. It’s not okay for any Christian book to feature such bodily exposure. Our covers should be God-honoring. Lack of clothing is not that. Honestly, it’s vile. It’s gross. Keep it off your covers.
  • Don’t have your cover impart the wrong “feeling”. Don’t have hard, bold font for a gentle, tender romance. Don’t have calligraphic font for science fiction. Don’t have a woman staring out into the distance wearing a wistful expression (which is a romantic-type cover) if your book is suspense. That’s one thing I really love about Shattered Reflection’s cover. It conveys the book’s mood perfectly. You can just tell Layree has a long journey ahead of her, and the sword, cloak, and mountains are perfect.

Design Software:

Designers swear by Adobe and Photoshop, but if that’s too pricey (and it probably is), there are a few alternatives.


You have to pay, but it’s the software I use to design covers. I’m quite pleased overall. Picmonkey allows you to erase, blend, texturize, recolor, and more. It’s not as cutsey as Canva, but it does offer options for designs, along with the ability to upload your own font. I recommend it.


I have a love-hate relationship with Canva, although I know others who swear by it. Canva is cutsey and offers an abundant variety of elements, stickers, and fonts, even if you are using the free version. However, Canva offers a poor attempt at fading, and you cannot blend, shadow, or texturize well. In my humble opinion, Canva is second-tier. It has its place, but it cannot deliver a quality cover if you’re looking for covers like Karen Witemeyer’s, Penny Zeller’s, or DECEIVED.


I’ve not used this at all, but I’ve heard from authors who are pleased with it. All I can tell you is it must be downloaded–and it’s a big download.

Book Cover Designers I Recommend:

Asteriks (*) indicate designers I’ve not worked with, but have heard good things about and who offer quality covers. All but EAH Creative offer premades. Each designer offers something a little bit different.

Lynette Bonner – Designed DECEIVED

Mountain Peak Edits & Design – You may recognize several of the covers listed here

EDH ProfessionalsThe covers I purchased from Erin are for an upcoming series and are not yet released

*Cora Graphics

*EAH Creative – Designs for Enclave Publishing and made Love in Disguise by Penny Zeller

Graphic Design

Aside from a well-written book and quality editing, formatting, and cover, one of the most important things you can do is promote your book. One excellent way to do this is through graphics. Graphics are versatile, and through them you can offer what readers are saying, sales, releases, cover reveals, quotes, questions, and more.

The two sites I recommend for cover design are Picmonkey and Canva.

Picmonkey offers a more elegant design and includes options for font texturization and colors. The downside to Picmonkey is you have fewer design elements like flourishes and all those pretty doodads. Picmonkey does provide some, but not to the extent of Canva.

Canva is artsy and cute. You won’t get elegant and gorgeous out of it, but you will get fun, attention-grabbing graphics if you can figure it out. It also offers quite the variety of elements, probably quadruple that of Picmonkey.

It all depends on your personal preference. I use both, although Picmonkey is my modus operandi. I can immediately spot a Canva design; whether that’s good or bad is up to you.

Picmonkey Examples:

Canva Examples:

It is easy to make your own graphic designs, but if you don’t know where to start or have too much on your plate, Mountain Peak Edits & Design offers graphics at an affordable price.

A+ Content

A+ Content has been around for years, yet it seems like few know what it is. A+ Content is a design/marketing opportunity offered by Amazon. Images of certain sizes are placed on the book’s page and are seen by potential readers as they scroll. Amazon has just upped it’s absurd pettiness, however, so be prepared for some hassle if you do decide to go this route. I do recommend it despite Amazon’s unnecessary pickiness.

Mountain Peak Edits & Design also offers A+ Content.

Examples of A+ Content


Google Doc Forms:

Use these forms to create places where people can sign up to help spread the word about cover reveals, book launches, and giveaway/sales. You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors, and can even create a header.

Header Example:


This ranges from character cards, necklaces, bracelets, candles, tea, shirts, pins, stickers, and more. There are many designers/candle-makers/tea-providers who offer these services. I personally was pleased with Paige Coffer, who did an astounding job on Therese’s character card.

Authors, what do you use for your books/promotions? Writers and upcoming authors, what are your thoughts? There’s a lot more that goes into publishing than you think, but don’t get discouraged. There is a vast writing community, and the majority are more than happy to offer advice and encouragement.


16 thoughts on “Resources for Upcoming Authors

  1. pennyzeller

    What an excellent resource! Thank you for all of this valuable information. I’m not artistically-inclined, so I’m grateful for Mountain Peak Edits & Design who has done promo graphics for my books. Highly recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saraina

    I am totally keeping this on hand so I can refer to it in the future!! Thank you for listing so many helpful resources!!! (And YES, pleeeease no shirtless guys on book covers! It’s so lame and immediately gives a bad impression of the book itself.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vanessa Hall

    Oooh, great post! I never really even thought about all of these facets when I was first getting into publishing. (At least the marketing side of things.) We have to deal with way more than rebellious characters and wonky wordings, don’t we? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Madi's Musings

      Thank you! (I remembered probably five more things after posting, but I suppose there can always be a “Part Two”.) Oh, that cover was horrible. I try not to be a cover snob, but sometimes you just can’t help but shudder. I saw another one where the baby was bigger: plopped in grass and overlooking the other model. I don’t know what the deal with huge babies is.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. K.R.Mattson

    All of those resources are making my head swim. 🤯 I’m gonna have to stuff those in a trunk somewhere for later use.

    I used to play around with GIMP. Used to. Once you get a hang of all of the tools it’s actually not bad. You just have to be prepared to go all in with it or be slogged down in three feet of options for everything imaginable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Alyssa

    I loved this, girl!! Thank you so much for addressing the content placed on covers. I am appalled by the amount of so called Christian books that have nasty things on the cover. It’s disgusting.
    Anyway, thanks for this wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Madi's Musings

      It took me a while to use Canva, but probably only because I was so used to the other designing software. I’m not fond of it for covers, but you can definitely make some adorable promo graphics with it. Like Picmonkey, it has its place.

      Liked by 1 person

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