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Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's not ALL about the cover... but today it is. Today I show you a few self-published authors who got it right!

 This post is in response to a disagreement I got into with another writer, about self published authors. See, I am now, and have long been of the opinion that it matters very little if you're self-published, or traditionally published. What matters, in my opinion, is being well published.

To me, that means being professional. And I'm not talking about how you act, though that is certainly important. What I'm taking about is how you approach the publication of your work. If you're an author and you want to self publish, being professional would mean you have a realization that being a self publisher means you ARE a publisher.

Self publishing is not meant to be the cheap way, or the fast way, or the easy way. Not if you're doing it right. Not if you're asking people to pay you for a product. If you're doing it right, it's going to cost you money. You are going to have to pay for editing. That's a fact. Your neighbor or aunt or high-school English teacher is not an editor. And your cover... well, your cover matters. Your buddy who takes really cool pictures, is not a cover designer.  A picture of your hamster does not a cover make!

The aforementioned disagreement was when the writer indicated that self published authors don't care--as a blanket rule--about quality. He said he's never seen a self published book cover that could hold water to a commercially published book. Well, I wholly disagreed and promised to show him the light.

See, the self-publishers who take it seriously stand out. The ones who take it seriously have books that could sit on a shelf in a store and you would never know it was self published. They understand the importance of marketing. 

Since I tend to focus on children's literature in my blog, I'm going to do so for this post too (that's MG and YA).

First up: I've taken a self published book and grouped it with a couple comparible books published by major publishers. What do you think? Do they fit in with their competition?

Do you know what I see when I look at those books? I see an author who did market research. They looked at the covers in their target audience, and they made theirs compatible, they made theirs fit.

Next up, just a few self published book series that I would add to any list of wicked book covers!

And just so I can punctuate this post with one final flourish, here's a few more...

So, there you have it. There are dozens more, truly, but this is just a small sample of self published authors who. at the very least, care about what their products look like. These books could sit on the shelf of any bookstore or library and you'd never know they were self published. Because like I said, it doesn't matter if you're self or traditionally published. What matters is that you're WELL published.

Design is just one component of that, mind you. Editing is another biggie, but that's a topic for another day. 

PS- I will add links to take you to the author sites soon. . .


Julie Luek said...

Good choices to demonstrate your point. I haven't gone down this road yet, but if I do, yes, I want to make the book quality-- and that includes the cover. From everything I've read in the industry, and from watching my writing friends choose self-publishing, setting aside a budget for editing, covers, marketing, etc, is part of the process.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Book covers will always been important - I've chosen books before based solely on covers. It doesn't matter whether self or traditionally published.

JeffO said...

Sounds like the guy you argued with has seen one too many poorly-published books, or believes in the rule of sweeping generalizations.

I agree with you, if you cut corners on your self-publishing effort, you're only going to hurt yourself and your reputation.

MaryAnn Pope said...

I agree 100 % with everything you say here. Self-published books can definitely be done right with no difference between them and traditionally published works, but it takes a lot of time and in most cases some money too.

But if you want people to pay for your books, you have to give them a professional product.

Great post!

maine character said...

So it's the first book in each comparison? The only way I guessed that was I recognized author's names on the others.

And those wicked ones are just that and make you think the writing will be just as cool.

I got the chance to do the cover for a local author, and while I haven't a clue about fancy graphics, I was able to use a photo he'd taken of Ireland, plus a stock photo, to make this cover for his novel about Vikings.

Steven W said...

@Julie - couldn't be more right. Starting with a budget is really important. Some of the covers up there aren't that expensive, but the writer adjusted the design to suit the budget whilst keeping on trend for market.

@Annalisa - I do that too! Well, I might be a little bit more picky when buy, but the cover makes me start the decision process. At a library though, I often pick up based on cover alone.

@JeffO - I agree. Doesn't mean you can't have a budget. Even the major publishers have a budget. But where design is concerned authors (SP authors) need to think like marketers.

@MaryAnn - I totally agree. I've seen some SP books that are terrific.

Steven W said...

@Maine - It's not that a great cover = great writing. It's that a great cover = author spent money on the product. If they spent money on the cover, they probably spent money on the editing. If they did that, they probably spent time learning the mechanics of story telling. Doesn't mean I'm going to love the story. But I when the design is solid, reach for the book confidently, and often don't even check to see who published it. Bad covers, however, don't get past first base in most cases.

Steven W said...

Missed the "I" in the above comment. Sorry. As in, *I* reach for the book...

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