Get Your Files

In recent weeks, I’ve been working with some clients who finally have their books in hand. They are celebrating those piles of shiny new books they are selling and giving away, and are delighted to be talking to me about their press kits and availability for interviews.

Fun times.

But that reminded me to share this with you. Sometimes it’s at about this point in their Author Journey that we may also be working on a few other things. If those things have hard deadlines, sometimes we end up scrambling and reaching for Rolaids when the Uh-Oh situation could have been totally avoidable.

The way to avoid the issue I’m talking about?

When you finish your book, get your files.

Most of you authors who are reading this are probably independently published, which means you own not only the rights to your book, but the files and cover art and everything.

Before you get very far down the road of marketing your book, you need to get copies of those files. Store what you can on your home computer but if some of the files are too large, find a cloud-based storage like Dropbox and store them there.

You need the final files that the publisher sent to the book printing company.

This is all too easily forgotten.

And let me make myself clear. While you probably have copies of the front cover of your book, did your designer say the file was “high res”? All of the technology keeps changing but what is still true is that what works for web usage is too small a file for traditional printing and larger format graphic output.

For the website, for social media – for anything online, the smaller files are fine, I believe generally preferable.

But when you are going to print a poster, a bookmark, or a pull up banner, you need larger files. Designers and photographers refer to these as “high res” short for high resolution, which is fancy talk for meaning there are a zillion little dots in that photo called pixels that can tolerate being enlarged. Smaller files have bigger dots and when you enlarge those, they look out of focus and are fuzzy.

You’ve probably seen photos that look like that.

About now is when I add my disclaimer about not being an expert in any of this, but here is what I would recommend though someone else may have a better idea.

I’d ask for my files in these ways and get each in multiple file formats like .jpg, .png and or pdf:

• Entire cover, front and back, high res
• Front cover only, high res
• Your head shot from the cover, high res
• Then versions of all of the above, low res, just to save yourself some time, although you can change the file size smaller yourself in most photo software programs. My photo software has an option that says “resize” and understands some options I might prefer.

All of the photo skill, from resizing to cropping to correcting color – you can learn how to do, or you can hire someone else to do it.

But no one can do it if you don’t have the images.

This isn’t to take anything away from the book designer or publisher. It’s just all too often on a Friday afternoon that you suddenly realize you don’t have the file you need to get some other work done. You need to contact three people, some of whom may not be in the office that day, to get what you need.

The time to get all of this is when everything has just been finalized and the designer has your files handy. No hurry.

While you are at it, get the interiors file too. If you are an indie author, it likely belongs to you.

By the way, beyond your book, if someone has done some design on your website or something like a logo, make sure you have that also in various file formats, and in color as well as black and white. Most professionals will automatically give it to you like that, but sometimes if you have a friend or hire someone quickly they might not take the time or even know to do that.

I don’t mean to make a bigger deal out of this than it is, but in real life we don’t always realize what we need until the clock is ticking.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on March 4, 2022.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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