@hummingrain If you're Mac, Vellum is the best formatting software I've found. For covers, I use Indigo Chick Designs (www.indigochickdesigns); it's just not worth the trouble of doing it myself.
@hummingrain So I formatted in MS word and converted with Calibre. The main things to remember are to use heading styles for chapters and paragraph style for body text. Page breaks between chapters/sections. This tells the ereader what is what.
Kindle formatting guide: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200645680
You can pay people to format for you as well.
For covers I searched artstation and deviantart for artists doing styles that matched my content/genre and then went with the best balance of affordable/quality based on that.
Anyway that's just me! Services like Kindle and Draft2Digital don't actually require too much heavy lifting with formatting, but it's good to build a template anyway I think so you can use more platforms.
@Rowyn has a lot more experience than me so might have more insight!
@hummingrain The most user-friendly self-publishing software for novels is Vellum. It's spendy and only available for Macs (but you can use a service like macinthecloud to rent time on a mac). If you don't want to do print books, there are free mobi/epub formatting programs that aren't too hard to use, as @vicorva
* Premade cover sites, like https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/shop/
* Make your own, using your own art/photos/designs, or public doman/stock photo sites.
* Troll art sites (I second the recommendation of artstation and deviantart for this) and commission an artist. Bear in mind that "illustration" and "graphic design" are two different skill sets, and you may want to hire people for both.
Also on covers: do market research. Go to Amazon, or a physical bookstore, and look at the covers of a LOT of books in your genre and subgenre. Make a note of what qualities they have in common. Do they use illustrations or abstract designs? Are figures in closeups or shown at a distance Is the text in ALL CAPS orTitle Case? What other text is common beyond the title & author name? Etc.
You want your book cover to visually identify it as part of its subgenre.
@hummingrain @vicorva Oh, for hiring artists: you can also troll hashtags like ArtistForHire or CommissionsOpen on Twitter/Mastodon, which has the benefit of being more likely to find you prices & artists who are looking for work.
Remember, when commissioning an artist for a cover, that you are licensing their art to use for the cover & marketing purposes. You both need to sign a contract for this. It doesn't need to be complicated and you can do it by email, but get it in writing.
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