Pushing Beyond the Page – Book Cover

Pushing Beyond the Page: Self-Publishing

Your Book Cover

The appearance of the book cover is one of the most important aspects of publicizing your book. Think about it; when you go to buy a book at the book store what gets you to pull the book off the shelf?  It is either the “catchy” title or the appearance of the cover.  Browsing online books or library books we tend to do the same thing.  I don’t stop to read the intro if I am not attracted to the cover.  In my opinion the cost of having the cover done professionally is worth it.  This may be true every aspect of writing your novel and totally depends upon your budget.  However, I have browsed Independently published books and have found that I am easily turned off by the cover art.  A “middle” cost choice would be the use of a good photo (taken by you or purchased on the web) and Photoshop.  In skilled hands this can lead to some very attractive covers for less money than you might pay a graphics professional.

My first book was produced by a publisher who had a professional graphic artist on staff.  They took my ideas and put them on the cover.  Their first attempt was not what I had in mind, but on the second try they hit it just right, and I was very pleased.  I worried about the cost of this on my second book.  I knew what I wanted, but I do not possess the Photoshop skills needed for the task.  Nevertheless, I found a graphic artist was very reasonable and knew a photographer who did excellent work and was not expensive.  I paid less than $350 for all of my graphic work.  For the second book, this was my single largest expense.  I do not regret this for a moment.  If you have a local college or university you may be able to utilize the skills of a student, but you will need to supply them with information about the submission requirements for your publisher (Createspace provides templates and information).  There are specific features that must be accounted for, such as the width of the spine and the “bleed” or area around the edge of the cover that will be impacted by the final cutting size.

Just like critiquing your writing it is good to get others to look at your book cover.  It is much easier to make changes before you submit the files to the publisher than to do it later.  With Createspace, just like submitting the interior work, you have opportunity to review the cover before going to print.  Once the cover art has been accepted and the interior is ready you are ready to print books, right?


Here is a crossroad that writers must come to.  Your book requires and ISBN number.  This is the “International Standard Book Number,” and this thirteen digit number and barcode are printed on the back cover of nearly every book.  This is a number unique to your book that identifies it in several ways.  The number is used by book seller to find your book.  It identifies the publisher, title and format of your book (you need one for each format, paper, ebook etc).  You may be able to purchase an ISBN cheaply, but the caveat is that in so doing you will be identifying your book with the publisher who sells you the ISBN.  Createspace can sell one to you, but it identifies your book as a “Createspace” published book.  That isn’t necessarily bad, but it is obvious to buyers that it was self-published.  Likewise, if you use a Createspace ISBN, you may be limited on where the book is marketed.  Go to Bowker (the only place to purchase your own ISBN)  https://www.myidentifiers.com/isbn/main  for detailed information about purchasing an ISBN.  They aren’t inexpensive, $125 for one number, but you get ten for $250.  You need two if you plan to publish in paper and electronic formats (though Kindle does not require or even encourage you to use a separate ISBN for their electronic publishing).  If you plan to self-publish more than one book you will need multiple ISBN’s making the purchase of ten for $250 more reasonable.

I went one step further and actually formed a publishing company (Esengo Publishing – Esengo means “joy” in the Lingala language, spoken in the Congo) for my own books.  When my books are published, the ISBN will reflect that name “Esengo Publishing” as the publisher of record, not Createspace.  I also purchased ten ISBN’s because I have several other book projects in the works.  It is a significant up-front cost, but I will not have to purchase them again for my next books.

If you want to know what it takes to found your own publishing company, click “Say Hi” and send me an email.  I would happily fill you in.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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