Time to stop the snobbery: indie book design is catching up

Well, this is something that has been both needed and hoped for (from me) in a while. It seems it is now ‘official,’ that the standard of self-published book covers has been getting better.


That this sort of subjective (as in it is a personal opinion after all), can be measured!

Well, the Bookseller thinks it can anyway.

“On the whole, we have found that the design quality of independently written and published books has increased by 47.8% over the last 4 years” Said an expert in this sort of thing at Measuring That Sort Of Thing.com

That’s not to say there isn’t still a lot of god-awful, “my son’s a good artist you know,” I have never looked at other people’s book covers, or I have looked at other people’s book covers and thought “I can do much, much worse than that”! crap out there. I keep wanting to do a post highlighting the head-shaking “can we get another kitchen sink in there?” rubbish Indie authors stake their hopes and dreams on. But I’m thinking ‘I can’t be so harsh.’ If it’s a cover for a ‘big’ publisher, then fair enough, because they use professional designers – in- or out-of house – who really should know better. An Indie author would say “Hey! That’s unfair! I have zero money for that sort of thing and zero experience of designing that sort of thing either!” To which, as the rubbish continues to be churned our and infests my Twitter feed daily, I say “You have eyes! Goddammit!” Yup, indie authors, look at that book you bought last by a Big Name Author and then look at the cover for your latest Kindle offering. Why, when you see one typeface for the title and name, do you use three? Why do you see one image taking up the whole of the cover, do you think yours’ would be better with fourteen? Why do you use more overlays than an Eskimo in their igloo in January? Why can I read title and author on a Big Name Book without even trying – which is how it should be – but on yours I either can’t find what the title is, or the series, or who is daft enough to own up to it – or read it because you’ve used a mixture of Old English and Papyrus, even if I do!

Here are some examples of good Indie Book people design. People who get it right time after time, for very little money:

If you’ve ever chosen the colour scheme and/or wallpaper pattern for your living room, you’ve made a design decision! So, there’s no “I can’t design!” allowed. And especially if you’ve ever published one of those irritatingly unnecessary, so effing what?! “50 trillion words today on my wip #amwriting” (preferably with a screenshot – actually preferably a mobile phone photo of your computer screen because you can’t figure out how to get your MacBook Pro to take a screen shot – showing the title page and the Typing Stuff In Programme you’re using’s word count details showing 50 trillion words – Tweets, then you’ve proved, at least to me, that you’ve also got eyes. And so you can see the difference between a Penguin Classic, and your Swimming Baths Noticeboard of a cover.

A book can be judged by its cover. It is. It’s the very first thing a prospective buyer sees – online, or in a bricks and mortar shop. And absolutely no amount of “but the writing is absolutely top notch and the story is…”, from your BFF who writes a blog now and then (including the compulsory “been going through a bad time at home, but I’m going to concentrate more on the blog now,” after which there are no more posts) is ever going to make up for a bad first  impression.

Father son, holy cow – dear lord, have mercy!

Here, at long last (or if you didn’t figure out to click on the word Bookseller up top, is the article (and in a first for The Bookseller, it’s not behind a pay-wall:

The BookSeller logo

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