DIY Publishing 101, Part 2 – Get a Cover

This is part two in an ongoing series about DIY Publishing. You can read part one, here.

Get a Cover

Once your book has been copy edited, it’s time to have a cover designed for the book.

If your book is going to be published only in ebook form, then technically you only need a JPEG file that’s approximately 600 x 800 pixels.

If you are also going to publish your book in Dead Tree format, then the cover requirements are a little more complicated. In fact, you can’t even fully build the cover until you have the final page count of the physical book. You can’t get the final page count until the text (title page, copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements, the text of the book itself, etc.) has been laid out in a template using the font and page size for the printed version. (More on this in a later post.)

Every reasonable person who writes about DIY publishing will tell you that you should not design your own book cover.

They are right. You should not design your own cover…unless you absolutely have to. So says the guy who designed his own cover.

If I could have afforded to hire someone to design the cover of my novel CHICAGO TIME, I would have. But since I didn’t have several hundred dollars to spend, I did it myself.

I still do not recommend doing it yourself. I recommend hiring someone to design your cover; an experienced graphic designer. Someone who has designed book covers and knows how to create something that is attractive, tantalizing, and hints at the story you’re telling. Most importantly, you need someone who understands book cover design in this digital age of ours.

Thanks to ebooks, some people are declaring the cover to be dead (as we know it). This is largely true. Check out Craig Mod’s post “Hack the Cover.” If you have the time, I highly recommend reading Mod’s post. He goes into great detail about what makes a good book cover in the digital age.

From a practical standpoint, the cover needs to be legible when made small. People browse the Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and Sony Reader stores now when hunting for a book to buy. Book covers in those stores look far different than they do sitting on a display table or shelf in brick and mortar stores. There are many fabulous (even artful) book covers that are unreadable when they are reduced to the size of your thumbnail. This is because the cover for the book was designed with the printed version in mind. This type of thinking is outmoded. Mod proposes the following rule in book design.

Kindle first design: if your cover looks great on the Kindle, it’ll probably also look great in print.

I propose it be called the First Rule of Book Cover Design.

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2 thoughts on “DIY Publishing 101, Part 2 – Get a Cover

  1. Good point about covers. No matter how sophisticated we are, we still are attracted by a photo or engaging design! Am going to check out “Hack the Cover.”

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