Year One: Part Seven - Don’t judge a book by its cover...yeah right.

Welcome to the seventh installment of Year One – you can access the previous entries right here!

Writing a book isn’t the only creative part of the process.  Once the manuscript is complete, there are two other important aspects to consider before the book can be considered complete: Book Design and Cover Design.

Cover Design touches on what the header alluded to. What is someone going to see when they pick up your book? This was something I knew had to be perfect before I ever got close to creating a cover.

Yes, a book should stand on its merits and it shouldn’t matter what the outside looks like (just like human beings), but let’s be honest, if the cover looks like crap you’re not evening picking it up. I know I’m not. If we lived in a vacuum, maybe we could get past a bad cover, but we don’t – before we ever decide to read the description on the back, we need the cover to draw our eye in, not repel it.

A good cover will bring a potential reader to the table, the description will convince them to eat, and a well written book will help them keep it down and bring them back for seconds (see the previous installment where I beg writers to get an editor).

Make sure the cover fits the genre and the book delivers on the description. Add in some quotes if you got em.

Make the cover sell the book.

I’m lucky enough to have a great friend (Jason Fragale) who was able to help me make what I consider to be an awesome cover for Shady Place. If I didn’t have him, I would have paid someone else to do my cover in a heartbeat.

Do not skimp here. There are sites that sell premade covers by genre, utilize them or a site like Fiverr where you can hire individuals to work with you to create a great cover.

Book design is how the inside of your book actually looks. Pretty simple right? You typed it up, formatted as you went, and hit save with every change and draft. Done. What’s the big deal?

Every publishing platform has a different format requirement for how you submit your manuscript. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent dozens of hours on formatting alone with Shady Place. A lot of this was trial and error from someone who had no clue what they were doing. Should I have paid someone and just had them provide me all the deliverables for the different formats for one price? In retrospect, yes, but I feel like even if I don’t do it myself in the future, I should at least know how.

Ingram Spark, Createspace, Smash Words, KDP – these are all publishing platforms you’ll hear more about in a later installment – these are your primary formatting Gods. They tell you how your work needs to appear to fit their platform. If you do it wrong, it either won’t look right, or in the case of Ingram Spark they reject it and charge you each time you resubmit.

There are templates available for each of these, but who knew you had to pay such close attention?

Beyond just preparing for the publishing platform there are other things to consider when designing the interior of the book: Font, font size (I have been thanked numerous times for using a larger font on Shady Place), copyright page, title page, where you’re going to number the pages, will you have headers on each page – so many things you don’t even realize when your only intention was to write a book and shove it out into the world.

Pick up a book and flip through it. There may be somethings you like and some you don’t. I flipped through dozens of books and noted just what I wanted Shady Place to look like, but still had to change certain aspects to fit certain formats.

Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

Books should stand alone on the quality of the content, but cover and book design go a long way to getting readers to even give you a shot.

If the book looks unprofessional, readers are going to assume the content is unprofessional. Make the investment in time or money and get these steps right.

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