This is the first in a series of posts I am planning as I finally pull the trigger on publishing my book. There are a number of reasons I decided to self publish, one of the biggest being control of my product in the form of right, pricing, the way I run it as a business, etc. Control comes at a price though. I am now responsible for things like formatting, cover design, marketing, all those things a traditional publisher would usually handle. As someone who has never tried to edit a photograph, let alone a full blown image, there have been many opportunities to learn.
Hopefully, these posts will be followed up with reports of success, but if not, than reports on what I did to correct my mistakes.
Two things everyone agrees on are 1) making sure you write a good story that is edited and 2) getting a good cover. From there, everyone’s opinion varies wildly from what else is important to what constitutes a good cover and good editing.
I made the decision to self-publish after two years of looking into it. I devoured thousands of articles, blog posts, reports, anything I could find while I finished my novel, learning everything as much as possible about all forms of publishing, the options available, and the benefits and problems of each.
One of the first two obstacles I ran into was getting a cover and editing. Both intimidated the hell out of me, and I initially considered the cost involved to be a deal breaker. I’ll write a post on editing later, but for now I’ll do the book cover.
The first thing I set out to do was get an idea of what it would cost and how much I could do myself. The budget was easy, my budget was (and still is) low. The skill level was even easier, pretty much capping out at the ability to see and being literate.
Prices start at around thirty dollars for a simple premade cover with more complex designs pushing that up to about two hundred dollars. I have’t seen many premades more than that. A custom design (not illustration) seems to start around 300 and going up quite a bit from there. Knowing full well I couldn’t justify spending several hundred dollars, I opted for the middle range of the premade price. I’ll be honest, there weren’t a lot I liked and I was pretty disappointed. It took several months of sorting through the premade sites to find one I was happy with. The links at the bottom show a few of the sites I visited, and selfpubbookcovers.com is where I ended up getting it.
Overall, I love it. The design and color really represent a particular element of the story that is essential. It was also cheap and easy to use.
The next part was to add text. SelfPubBookCovers has an editor but it only has a dozen or so fonts. Only one was remotely acceptable and my wife hated the way it made the g look in Rising. So I decided to add my own text using GIMP because it was free and supposedly user friendly. I’ll have to take their word on the user friendly part, but as I stated above, the only skill I brought to the table was being able to see, so what do I know? I put together six or seven covers with various text types (I was pretty set on color and shadowing) and presented them to my wife. She liked Papyrus the best. There was a another I thought tied, but when in question, always go with the wife.
Uploading the files was simple, once I figured out what I was doing wrong. For Createspace, they only accept a print-ready PDF. The first time I converted it to a PDF and uploaded it, it took away my book’s title and for some reason shrunk the text of my name. This was mainly because I hadn’t flattened it, but also because I didn’t save it correctly. Aubrey Watt‘s videos on putting together a cover helped me with flattening and a few other details. I haven’t quite figured out what needed to happen with the save, I just clicked one of the boxes and it worked that time.
There are a few things I’ll have to consider for the future. I love the cover, but it could certainly be better, more customized, and more distinct. This will all come into play when I release the second book in a big way. The biggest disadvantage to premade covers is continuity. Unless they’re made by the same artist, they’re not going to look the same, and even when they are, the artist is making a general image that could match a variety of stories to increase its marketability, not to readers, but to authors.
Probably, moving forward I will have to make an investment decision to redesign my covers. I’ve seen a lot of self-published authors discuss this as they learned more about the business and wrote more titles that needed to be better identified with each other in a coherent brand.
There is one designer at the bottom who really interests me. Karri Klawiter has an impressive portfolio and these three she went back and designed for an author who wanted to brand her series are possibly the best I’ve ever seen.
These are a mix of designers and premade cover sites. Some even do both.
http://www.shutterstock.com/ (These are just stock photos, but if you wanted to do it yourself, I was recommended this site)
http://www.richardkgreen.com/templates.html and…http://www.bookcovertemplates.com/ (I discovered Mr. Green had created this second page to host pre made covers. As I was writing this article, his look amazing)