Self Publishing Series, Step 3: Appearances Matter


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Handsome is as handsome does. Beauty is only skin deep. There are so many clichés about how little looks matter. But when it comes to independent publishing appearance matters. A lot. You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, if people didn’t automatically judge a book by its cover, there would be no need for that admonition. I judge books by their covers all the time. A book cover should evoke certain feelings in the reader, and then deliver more of those exact same feelings within the pages of the book. If book covers truly didn’t matter, why do books even have them? Why not just have a standard black cover with the title in white letters? Because that wouldn’t be any fun!

Today I want to go over two aspects of appearances and publishing. The first is typesetting and the second it cover design. Typesetting is an art form in and of itself. Personally, I think that hiring a professional typesetter will give your self published work a polished and uniform appearance. I’m the type of person who believes that success is in the details. Typesetting is one of the details that will allow you to proudly display your work alongside any traditionally published book. Have you ever noticed that the type in a book or e-reader is darker and better spaced than the type from a word processor? It makes for easier reading, and that’s the whole point of typesetting. As with other steps in the independent publishing journey you can either pay a professional typesetter or you can do it yourself.  Professional typesetting can cost as little as $2.00 per page or as much as $20.00 per page, depending on your material and design specifications. Do your research and compare prices as well as work quality. If you decide to try typesetting yourself, there are a lot of software programs to choose from: LaTex, Scribus and InDesign (among many others). Google away! It’s truly a matter of personal preference, as well as how tech savvy you are and how much money you’re working with.

Now to the fun part: cover design. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here’s your chance to sum up thousands upon thousands of words in a single image. It can seem daunting, but so worth it. If you’re artistic and an undercover graphic designer, then by all means create your own cover. Many of the e-publishing companies like Kindle Direct Publishing and KOBO offer cover creating software. I haven’t tried it, but I would imagine that if you have a stunning picture, you could create a great cover via their websites. However, if you’re like me, seek out a professional. I’ll admit that I have an eye for placement and design, but that doesn’t mean I know how to execute the vision. I recommend finding a graphic designer who specifically creates book covers. There are so many specifications involved, that you want to work with someone who is familiar with those aspects. Plus, if they specialize in book covers, then they should be aware of current market trends, etc. The cost of book cover design varies significantly. Once again, do your research and then decide how much you’re willing to spend, if anything.

Here are some best-selling book covers that caught my eye. Some are self published, some are traditionally published. I recommend that you peruse cover designs in your genre to get a feel for what sells well. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Do what has been proven to work!

Big girls
Genre: Romance
She has
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Young Money
Genre: Non-Fiction (Finance)
To Kill
Genre: Classic Literature
Glitter and Glue High Res
Genre: Memoir

Do you judge a book by its cover? Have you made a decision to purchase a book based purely on appearance? Chime in!

Photo credit: kern.justin / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


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