There are SO MANY cliches floating around in the English language. One in particular that is very familiar to most of us is ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. It is quite apropos when speaking of a person’s outward appearance, but when some attempt to apply this platitude to books, I protest! On the contrary, you should judge a book by its cover and smart readers do just that. I personally am attracted to red books; colorful, creative type, and catchy titles. That is the first hook that gets me to crack the thing open – I want to see if the inside is equally appealing. If I am not tempted to look at it, why on Earth would I even open it?
So, if you are self-publishing and plan to design your own cover, DON’T. That is, of course, unless you are a graphic designer or an advanced user of Photoshop, Illustrator or some such program. The rest of us artistically-challenged writers opt for hiring a good cover designer. I have had the good fortune of working with two and keep them on speed dial.
There is another popular saying bantered back and forth around the American water cooler — you get what you pay for. That said, don’t be cheap. If the person’s work warrants it, pay them! It is possible to find designers who are cheap and good, but don’t press your luck. Some who can come up with wonderful ideas, may not be able to carry the project through to publication. You want someone who can not only serve up a great concept, but one who knows how to work within the parameters of standard cover output, with preflight knowledge, file type experience and can count (you need someone who knows how to measure the proper width of the spine to hold all those fabulous pages you’ve written.)
To assist you in your project, here is a list to use before, during and after the cover is designed:
|Book Design Checklist|
|Cover colors correct?|
|front copy correct?|
|back copy correct?|
|bar code correct?|
|spine copy correct?|
|word spacing correct?|
|page numbers correct?|
|excess blank pages?|
It’s good to find someone who is open to collaboration as well. Likely, you have already envisioned your cover and have some elements you want to ensure are included. Don’t be adversarial or unreasonable; you are developing a business relationship. You may need this person later to clean up someone else’s mess (or your own) so you want them to be willing to do so. And please pay promptly! Most of these folks are freelancing and we all know what that’s like. 😦
The end game is to make sure your book looks like..well..a real book and cannot be singled out as ‘self-published.’ If you do this part correctly, you are sure to get them to look inside!