Tag Archives: design

The Results of Judging Books by Their Covers

Some folks decided to put book covers to the ultimate test—how are they really judged? They made a game that had people judge book covers, and then compiled all the results. 3 million books had their covers judged, and then they posted up the results. It’s pretty cool.

You’ll have to head over to the original post for a breakdown on the book cover judgements, but it’s a great experiment. And it shows that the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is completely full of sh*t. Everyone is judging a book by its cover. The cover really matters. And, that sometimes it matters for weird ways (even books that were universally slammed for design would sometimes be highly rated because it had an attractive person on the cover. Oy.).

And for independent authors, it means that the money you are investing in your cover art designer is 100% worth it. It’s foolish to imagine that just because your words are good that the cover doesn’t matter. It does. A lot. So put some work into that cover art…and be judged favorably.

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All Laid Out: You May Need a Designer for Your Book

I’ve just spent an hour adding dropcaps to my book—I may be a little crazy.

Let me explain.

A goodly time ago, I decreed that I was giving up on the agent game and was going to self-publish. (Yep, I wrote that in September.) My first goal was just wildly unrealistic, and then I got paralyzed by life circumstances, fear, and options.

Nevertheless, I got back on track.

Step one was research where, exactly, to self-publish. From what I’ve read, it seems like a multi-pronged approach is the best tactic. Because I’m familiar with the system, I decided to start with Amazon’s CreateSpace, from whence it’s a natural transition to KDP for the epub, and then on to other epublishers (more research needs to be done).

Because my book uses the choose-your-own-adventure model, I felt it was good to have a print copy and a hyperlinked digital version, to catch the types of readers who prefer to flip through pages versus the newer ones who are brave enough to try the same thing on a digital device–no page flip required. But that format also means a lot of work.

I drafted a battleplan:

  • format for print
  • format for online
  • create cover
  • buy ISBN(s)
  • upload to CreateSpace
  • upload to KDP/ebook pub
  • update website
  • buy new business cards

You’ll notice that this battleplan is not ALL the steps to self-publishing, but it IS a lot more steps than I originally thought it would be.

But that first bullet there is why I ended up making dropcaps for an hour. It’s also why I’d encourage other people who are looking to self-publish to go hire a layout designer. Yes, it’s money, but it’s also hard, particularly if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing.

Luckily, I do have some experience in that direction, but it was still both overwhelming and ridiculously tedious. Some things you have to consider:

  • What typeface will you use? What message does it send the reader?
  • What size will your typeface be? Can readers in your target age group actually read that size print?
    • Is it legible?
  • Where on the page will you start your chapter?
  • What are your margins?
  • Where will you put your page numbers? What will they look like?
  • Do you need dropcaps?
    • Do you know what a dropcap is?
  • How will you manage your widows and orphans?
  • Will you put a blank page between chapters?
  • Are there any weird formatting things you’re going to have to deal with?
  • If you find a small typo while working on one version of your book, how will you ensure that error is fixed everywhere it appears?
    • Suggestion: Keep a master file and make ALL changes there. Then use the master file to create the second and third and fourth, etc., versions. (I had a client who didn’t do this, and it was terrible.)

If you know all that kind of thing and don’t mind, then you may be perfectly fine DIY-ing it. CreateSpace offered a template to help match the book size you select, which was awesome. But if that list up there sounds overwhelming, or if you’d rather not waste a whole day doing that kind of thing, do yourself a big favor and pay an expert.

I particularly like the freelance author site Writer.ly.  (Note: I also sell my editing services there. Look me up sometime!)

Did you hire someone to design the layout of your book? Why or why not?

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