Cover story

What I’ve learned about self-publishing this week:

  • It’s hard work. Not hard physical labour like harvesting the wheat in this heatwave, more like soft brain work – exercising the little grey cells. You are responsible for every aspect of the publishing process unless you have loads of relatives or friends with skills you can call upon to help.
  • You can spend hours on seemingly trivial things such as choosing a font for the front cover. I’ve scrolled through dozens of different fonts on Word looking for the perfect one. I know which font I’m using for the text (good old Cambria) but what about the cover title; so important to attract a reader and buyer.

    Although the fonts  look fairly similar there are subtle differences. I prefer a serif ‘g’ which all have except Arial uncoded.
  • If you get the cover wrong, it puts people off or they think the work is amateurish. You have, no doubt, seen  examples online of car-crash covers from self-published books and wondered what on earth the author or designer thought they were doing. However, I’m not here to mock. It’s not easy designing layouts for publication, even if you’re qualified to do it.
  • A fine balance between what looks good and what communicates the contents easily to the reader. If you’re doing the design yourself you need a good eye and some aesthetic sensibility to produce a cover that looks right. And colour is a minefield. We have a natural bias towards those we prefer for whatever reasons,  so objectivity is difficult.
  • I’ve learned that just because you’ve bought your ISBN – from Nielson UK ISBN Agency, in my case, it does not mean you can put it straight on your book cover. You have to convert the 13-digit number into a barcode with – yes, you’ve guessed it, a barcode generator. Who knew there was such a thing.
  • And that if you want a barcode, you can buy one – something else to add to my already long list of expenses. There is an add-on to Excel which will do the job. I found some free generators online but, as they say ‘there’s no such thing as a free barcode ‘ and I wasn’t sure if they were kosher or if there was a catch to them so I decided not to use them. Thanks to hubby, who told me about the add-on, I now have my own generator. Not something many people can boast they have.
  • I’ve also produced my press release, checking the layout and content with the one I had from Fonthill for The Road to Civitella. I hope it does the trick in publicising the bookdownload pdf
  • I think simple is best for everything. My book is simple – short and accessible with pretty illustrations but not written for simple people. As my press release says – a story for all ages.