The Cover Design Learning Curve

Posted: September 25, 2012 in cover design, Darklands, Marketing & Promotion, Publishing, Writing
Tags: , , ,
Darklands at Scarthin Books

Emma Woodcock with Darklands at Scarthin Books

I had chance this weekend to visit Scarthin Books in Cromford. It was hugely exciting to finally see Darklands on the shelf of a proper bookshop. Of course, I blundered around the entire children’s room several times before finding it. And when I did find it I immediately percieved the problem. The spine is plain white text on a black background.

Take a look at all those other book spines, with their bright colours, interesting fonts, swirls and curlicues. If Darklands stands out at all it is only through its sheer unobtrusiveness.

When my designer (bf – who is btw a graphic designer, though with no previous experience of book cover design) and I were originally sorting out the cover we intended to do a wraparound cover (ie, the design goes all the way round the cover), but were slightly daunted by the technical aspects of getting all the measurements (mainly the spine width) exactly correct. There were so many other things jostling for my attention at the time that I just thought, ‘Sod it. This will be fine’.

And it has been, up til now. Previously I have only sold through Amazon and in person. In both those circumstances the buyer sees the front cover of the book. The spine is irrelevant.

Bf and I left Scarthin Books both saying, ‘So… do you think we should redo the cover design?’

Any revisions to the book incur a charge of £29 from FeedaRead. Looked at one way, I would need to sell 29 copies through the bookshop in order to make that a worthwhile financial decision*.

But that’s not the way I see it. At this stage of what I choose to call my writing career (voluntary work might be nearer the mark), it’s all about getting it out there, getting my name known, getting people to read the damn book! Consequently, I think this would be a worthwhile investment. It isn’t just about making the book stand out. It’s about delivering a better product.

I will also take the opportunity to put the ace review quote on the front cover, rather than the back. I might put a mugshot and some personal blurb on the back. And I think I’ll put some message about it also being available as an eBook. Cover design, like everything else about self publishing, is a learning curve.

* I am (and have been for a month or so) intending to do a piece on total costs and returns in my first year of self publishing. Keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in the financial realities of self publishing. And now I’ve finally written that post!

  1. Cassie says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a great comment! I think you’re totally right about the book covers. If your spine stands out from the crowd more people will pick it up, and it’s so important for self-pubbed books to look as professional as possible. (I saw one recently that I was almost positive had been drawn in Microsoft Paint by a small child and I could only think nooooo…why did they do that to their poor book?) I also read your post on everything you’ve done book-wise in the past year. Wow! It sounds like a massive effort, and I hope things pick up for you in the future.

  2. elwoodcock says:

    Thanks, Cassie 🙂

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