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How to Write and Publish Your Book #9

Posted by Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty Ltd on 22 December 2014

Book cover design

People often talk about the importance of a book's cover design, alluding that a great eye-catching cover can attract buyers and influence their decision to purchase the book. It is true that a well-designed cover is critical to your book having a professionally published appearance, but remember, self-published books are rarely displayed in the high street bookstores. Buyers on the internet browse online bookstores differently than they would a high street store. In most cases, they already have an author or title in mind, or they are searching by keywords or phrases (see book marketing). The book cover design remains a vital selling point online, but its impact can be reduced. This fact behind the sales of your book cannot be under-emphasised.

We all love a great book cover and we all want our book to look the best it can, but we need to keep the reality of what makes our book a great book firmly in the forefront:  the content. It is vital to remember that this is what you spent months, and for some of you, years working on writing and rewriting. Unfortunately, some self-published authors forget this essential point and chose to skimp on vital components such as editing, in favour of an expensive book cover design.

Having said all that, here are my tips for creating a great design - and remember, you shouldn't have to mortgage the house to get a great cover:

  • Unless you are an experienced artist or graphic designer, don't try to create your own illustrations for your cover, hire a professional.
  • If you have some experience with Photoshop or InDesign or similar software, you can create an eye-catching design by layering photographs that you have taken or have purchased from an online royalty-free stock photography site
  • Make sure you have the necessary permissions to use any photographs that you haven't taken yourself and be familiar with the copyright terms and conditions of use.
  • For printing, you need to create a separate file for the cover incorporating the front, back, and spine. To achieve the correct spine thickness, decide which type of paper you are using for the interior pages, then calculate the thickness of the desired paper with the number of pages (you may need to contact your printer to find out the paper thickness).
  • Make sure all images are high-resolution (300dpi) in CMYK. Fix your ISBN barcode to the back cover, then create a PDF/X file. This will insure that all images and fonts are automatically embedded. If you are unable to produce a PDF/X file, a standard PDF will suffice; you'll just have to make sure that images and fonts are embedded.
  • A 3 - 6mm bleed all round is required for the printer, along with crop marks. This is to insure that if the book trimming is slightly out of line, it will not be noticeable. If there were no bleed, a white edge would appear.

For an ebook all you'll need to do is the front cover but it will also differ from the print version in that it should be low resolution (around 72 - 100dpi) in RGB.

The example below is of a simple book cover design for printing using layered images. Notice the single file incorporating the front, back, spine, barcode, and a 6mm bleed and crop marks:

Murder inQuest by Andrew McDermott_book cover image

Join me next time when we'll be discussing ISBNs, RRPs, CIPs (huh?) and your legal deposit requirements.

Until then...write on!

Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty LtdAuthor: Andy McDermott / Director Publicious Pty Ltd Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn
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