Sunday, 4 June 2017

On Self-Publishing A Book: What I Learned From Making Book Covers

So I self-published my dad's first book "Life Without Nonsense Doesn't Make Sense" just last year. I've actually learned quite a bit in this journey of self-publication, and so I thought it would be worth making a short series of blogs pertaining to what I've realized through the different aspects of the process. So without further ado, I'll start with the first thing you'll notice about the book-- The Cover. 

Life Without Nonsense Doesn't Make Sense Book Cover 
SIMPLE CAN MEAN UNNOTICEABLE
As much as I liked the cover of the first book I published, a lot of people commented that it was very plain. Considering that it was just gold typography on white, I can't say that I disagreed with this assessment.

To be honest though, I made the cover simple mainly because I did not have a lot of confidence in my artistic abilities. With this in mind, I thought that the less things there were, the less ways I can get it wrong. 

I didn't realize how being too safe and simple can literally make it unnoticeable in the sea of books available in the market today. I should have considered taking a few more risks, making a couple more designs at the best of my abilities, and had other people assess various designs before I narrowed in on a cover.

COMMUNICATE WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT
On the other hand, it also does not help that people do not know what the book is about just by looking at the front cover. Quotation aficionados would certainly not know to pick up this book from a line up in a bookstore. 

They could may well think that it is a self-help book for people who need more nonsense in their life! This concept could make for an awesome book, but the problem is that it is not THIS book, and I could see how the title could be misleading without any context to wrap itself around in. (On the revised edition, I made a point in saying that the book contains original quotations and poetry.) 

COST-CUTTING ISN'T ALWAYS SMART
On another end, in my narrow-minded thinking, I only used one color on the cover to save some money on printing costs. As it turns out, the four-toned CMYK ink was actually not that much more expensive, and having a more colorful cover will certainly make your book more attractive-- ergo, you can sell more books that way. 

Bottom line is that you shouldn't sacrifice the look of the cover to save a bit of money. The practical reality is that people DO judge books by their covers, and it is best to give them a good first impression even if you need to spend a little more. (Good advice on both books and first dates, don't you agree?) 

PUT MORE THOUGHT ON THE BACK TEXT 

Clearly, I did not lovingly craft the back text of the book, which was obviously not very smart of me. 

I kind of thought that people will  be flipping the pages of the book anyway, so they can see for themselves what they were buying into. I didn't realize how most books are covered in plastic and a lot of people will not even open the book until they feel convinced that the cover is interesting enough for a second look.  

DON'T BE LAZY
All in all, I blame this bland cover on good old plain laziness. I could have practiced a bit more and spent a little more time on the cover-- but I didn't. 

I felt like I have already spent so much time on the inside of the book that I merely glazed through the cover process so that I can get it published as fast as possible. 

Thing is, you only have ONE SHOT of publishing the First Edition of your first book. Now even if you didn't change anything on the inside and you did not need to have a revised edition, a different cover will already make things more confusing for book buyers everywhere. 

IN CONCLUSION
To take a quote from the very book I'm whining over:

He who admits his mistake, corrects it. - William T. Co  

Book publishing, as with everything, is a process of improvement. You can't expect not to make dumb mistakes, but the more you take a go at it, then the less mistakes you'll make.

So even if your next book ain't perfect, if you're continually working through ways to improve your craft, then you can at least say that you're on your way there.

Life Without Nonsense Doesn't Make Sense Revised Edition Book Cover
     
P.S. "Man playing in the rain" was actually my dad's original concept when he visualized the book's title. This time around, I went on and tried my best to execute it. I added the "Playful dog" in honor of my first brown dachshund, Smiley.   

The book is now available for purchase in PDF. It will be available in Philippine stores soon!

Hopefully you'll support my dad's quote-making, and my own book publishing journey! Thank you and I hope you enjoy your read.  

Michelle Martinez Co

1 comment:

Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them.