Tools for Indie Authors: Canva

June 29th, 2017

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Canva is an online graphic design app. Canva won’t help you write your book, but it can help you market and promote your book. Indie authors can use Canva to create the following:

  • Book covers
  • Logos
  • Flyers and posters for book signings
  • Twitter header images
  • Images for blog posts and tweets
  • Business cards

Using Canva

When using Canva you start by choosing what you want to design: book cover, logo, poster, etc. After making your decision either start with a template (Canva calls them layouts) or a blank canvas.

If you start with a template, the next step is to modify it to suit your needs. Some of the ways you can modify a template include the following:

  • Replace the placeholder text with your text
  • Change the color of text and other elements
  • Change the font and font size of the text
  • Change the text alignment

If you start with a blank canvas, you’ll have to add a background, text, and other elements. You can either go with a solid background color or choose from dozens of background patterns. For text you can add headings, body text, or choose from dozens of templates that let you have text inside shapes. Canva has the following elements to add to a design:

  • Photos
  • Grids
  • Frames
  • Shapes
  • Lines
  • Illustrations
  • Icons
  • Charts

Text and elements can also be added to designs that start from a template. You can also upload your own photos and images to use in your designs.

What’s nice about Canva is the templates provide a good starting point towards designing something that looks professional. But there are also enough ways to customize your designs to make them stand out.


Canva provides a free version for teams of up to 10 people that includes 1 GB of storage for your designs. The free version should be sufficient for indie authors. There’s also a paid version for $13 a month that provides the following benefits:

  • Unlimited storage
  • More templates, photos, and illustrations to choose from
  • The ability to upload your own fonts
  • The ability to quickly resize your designs
  • Support for teams of up to 30 people

Tome Builder 0.2.6

June 5th, 2017

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Tome Builder version 0.2.6 is now available to download at the Tome Builder website. This version comes with an improved book template for new books so you don’t have to manually add title and copyright pages to the book.

If you don’t want the new items, you have two options. First, you can leave them blank. Blank chapters are ignored when publishing a book. Second, you can remove them by selecting them from the chapter list and pressing the Delete key.


Choosing the Line Spacing for Your Book

May 30th, 2017

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Line spacing is the amount of space between lines of text in a paragraph. If there’s not enough space between lines, text becomes difficult to read. Place too much space between lines, and the lines in the paragraph don’t look like they belong together.

The line spacing for paragraphs should be 120-145% of the font size. If you have a 10 point font for your book’s body text, the line spacing should be 12-14.5 points. I recommend starting with the lower end of the scale, 120% or 125% of the font size, and see how that looks. As a point of reference, the line spacing for paragraphs on this blog is 130% of the font size.


Choosing Font Sizes for Your Book

May 22nd, 2017

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If you’ve done any writing on a computer, you’re familiar with fonts and font sizes. Most writing apps have a control to choose a font and font size. Many Mac apps have an inspector bar to choose the font size, which you can see in the following screenshot:


In the screenshot the font size is 13. What does the 13 represent?

13 is the size of the font in points. 72 points equal 1 inch. If you made the font size 72, each line of text would be 1 inch high. 13 point text is slightly larger than one sixth of an inch.

What’s the right font size for the body text of your book? It depends on the font you’re using and whether you’re publishing a print or electronic book. One font may be as big at 10 points as another font is at 11 points.

Print books can use smaller font sizes because you hold print books closer when reading. 10-12 point text works well for print books. Electronic books need larger text: 12-18 point text. You may need to experiment to find the best font size for your book.


Quick Failed Experiment: Cross-Platform Tome Builder

May 5th, 2017

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I heard recently that Microsoft released a preview version of their Visual Studio development tool for Mac and released .NET Core, a cross-platform version of the .NET framework software developers use to develop Windows applications. I decided to download the Visual Studio preview to see if it was possible to make an application that would run on both Mac and Windows. If I could, I would look into making Tome Builder for both Mac and Windows.

After installing the Visual Studio preview, I became disappointed. Visual Studio for Mac is built for creating mobile and Mac applications, not cross-platform desktop applications. The .NET Core framework is built for making code libraries that applications use, not for developing applications.

So there isn’t going to be a cross-platform version of Tome Builder in the foreseeable future. At least I was able to fail in an hour.