Q: My book is finished being edited and is ready to be printed. How can I put a nice cover on it as cheaply as possible? I don't expect the book to be on a bestseller list, but I do want it to be more advanced than my first attempt.
A: You are wise to be concerned about the cover. The cover, both front and back, is often the only thing that sells a book. If the cover looks bad, few people will buy the book, no matter how well written the contents may be. As in editing, the cover is not a place where you want to scrimp.
If you don’t want the cover to look cheap, don’t be cheap. That is, pay someone, even if it is only a design student, to design a book cover properly and well. Making the front, back, and spine look professional takes much more work and knowledge than most non-designers can imagine, plus the file must be compatible with the printer’s equipment. If you want the cover to look professional, hire a professional to do it.
You can search the Internet for cover designers and pick one with the best price. Your designer can be anywhere in the world and send the files to you electronically. Check out some of the lower-priced book design companies in India, for example. You can hire a pro yourself, or you can use a pay-to-publish company that offers cover design as part of a printing package. Check the Internet for such companies and see if they offer covers that appeal to you at a price that is satisfactory.
Q: Can you recommend two or three high-quality self-publishing companies? We are ready to publish, but I'm on the fence as to who we should use.
A: Who you choose to publish your book depends on your needs and desires. Some pay-to-publish companies have gotten bad press, yet many clients who have used the same companies have been happy. Instead of listing specific companies, let me make some suggestions.
- Evaluate your needs before you begin the decision process. Which is more important to you, a low per-book price, or the ability to order only a few books at a time so you don’t have to warehouse them? The answer will determine whether you want a print-on-demand publisher or a true printing company.
- Do you need someone to fulfill orders for you? If so, choose a company that offers fulfillment services.
- Do you need help with internal and external design, getting an ISBN or a barcode? Read about the capabilities of each publisher and decide which capabilities are the most important to you and your goals.
- If you do not need help with order fulfillment, design, barcode or ISBN, find a printing company rather than a publisher. Printers usually charge less than companies that offer extra services and handholding.
- If decide to use a pay-to-publish company, investigate the company first. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references from clients, and call or e-mail those clients and ask probing questions. Be sure the company you choose is reputable.
- Ask for samples of the company’s products. See if you like the look and feel of the books. If the company will not send samples, go to the next company.
- Pay attention to how quickly the company responds to your questions and requests. Be sure the company allows you to speak with a human being, so you won’t have to deal with the company strictly by e-mail or through a website. Don’t, however, fall for high-pressure sales tactics. If someone says you’ll get a good deal only if you make a decision right away, run away, as fast as you can!
- Don’t make your decision based on price alone. You usually get what you pay for. For example, some paperback covers curl over time or in heat. Pay a little extra to get a cover that will lie flat for the life of the book.
- If you want to use a company that has a higher price and you have been dealing with a human being, you may be able to negotiate a slightly better price. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. Explain that you are considering such-and-such publisher that charges only (give the price) for the same service, and ask if the company will match that price. Be honest and realistic. Companies deserve to make a profit.
Q: Assume the following title (subtitle?) on a book:
RUN WITH THE WIND
How Jogging and Running Can Improve Your Health
Must the second line be considered a subtitle? If so, must I have a colon after WIND, or can it be as I show it?
A: If both lines appear on the title page of the manuscript or on the cover of a book, the top line-- RUN WITH THE WIND--would be considered the title, and the second line--How Jogging and Running Can Improve Your Health--would be considered the subtitle. Must it be so? Not really, but a good subtitle clarifies the contents of the book, so it’s wise to have a subtitle on nonfiction books. If you don’t want the second line to be a subtitle, delete it from the title page of the manuscript or the cover of the book before printing, but it would be unwise to avoid using a subtitle that clarifies the contents.
A colon does not need to appear on the manuscript title page or book cover, when the title and subtitle are on separate lines. The colon should, however, appear when the title and subtitle are used together for advertising and promotional purposes. In running text or advertising, for example, it would be Run with the Wind: How Jogging and Running Can Improve Your Health.