Thursday, 30 June 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: You do judge a book by its cover!

Advice for Indie Authors: You do judge a book by its cover!
I read with interest an article last week about the research conducted by HP that claimed digital book printing is greener than offset. The comments that followed the article threw up some interesting debates; such an argument that the research only applied to short-run jobs, and what would the carbon footprint comparison be against eBooks?

This sort of research is only good news for the print-on-demand market, and particularly the self-publishing houses that are able to churn out tens of thousands of copies of books each year at the click of a button.

I would also like to think whatever side of the fence you sit on, when it comes to book printing, most printers should be fairly confident of getting it right when printing black text on white paper.

But what about the book cover? This has to be a slightly different discussion. In spite of the well-known saying don’t judge a book by its cover – surely that is the first thing a consumer does when they pick up a book. The quality of the cover and the quality of the printing has to come into play.

I have realised over the last three weeks just how important the cover is. Working closely with Jacqueline Abromeit, Art Director at Pen Press, has shown me that the design of the cover is vital. After nearly two years and 90,000 words later, I am on the verge of becoming a published author, and the last thing I want to do is put people off by the cover.

“You really cannot tell if a book is well written or if you will enjoy reading it by looking at its cover,” Jacqueline said. “Still, we need a book cover to communicate with us. And of course, like all packaging, it should help to sell its contents by appealing to its targeted audience. Never try to please everybody – it is not possible!”

Doing some research in the archives, I found an interesting story from last year on how publishers are now looking at different printing techniques to make sure their books stand out on the shelves.

As an indie author without the backing of a big publisher behind me, having a cover design service like the one offered by Pen Press has been a huge benefit, as Jacqueline has always been on hand to offer advice when needed, and to make changes and recommendations.

“At the very least it should clearly inform us of the book's title, author and genre,” Jacqueline said. “The cover should intrigue the potential reader into picking up the book. Something that is even more important for the unknown author who doesn't yet a have faithful following, or the famous name to attract attention. And then there is this other line – a picture says more than a thousand words.”

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