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Tips for Author Marketing
Why the Finished Look of Your Self-Published Book Matters

Published on Monday, October 15, 2018

Why the Finished Look of Your Self-Published Book Matters

While you are working on your manuscript, you may think it doesn’t much matter what the finished book will look like – but you are probably visualizing it anyway. And that’s important because the size and shape of your book can really complicate things, even to the point of making you re-write your manuscript. Think through what you absolutely must have for your new book and what you are willing to compromise.  

Book Size and Shape
The size of your book affects both printing costs and marketability, so think this through before you invest a lot of time into a project that becomes unwieldy. Do some research first. 

Do you want your book to stand out on a bookshelf or look like others in its market? Creative people often think “I want to stand out!” while marketing people think “You should look similar to the others.” 

The reason you might choose to make your book the same size and shape as others is so you can borrow the reputation of a comparable book. Readers are looking for more of what they already love and it’s easy for them to make that connection if your book reminds them of one they loved reading.

Also, keep in mind that it’s cheaper to publish common sizes and shapes. If your book is crazy different, it will cost more to produce. That can also be a terrific selling point, but you need to crunch the numbers to be sure.

Hard Cover vs. Soft Cover
You buy books yourself so you already know that hard-covered books are more expensive to purchase. That’s because they are also more expensive to produce, around $10 more per book at some self-publishing printers. Some folks ONLY buy hardcovers while others don’t care to pay the extra money and are fine with a soft cover. You need to really know your readership before making this decision. 

Depending on how you are publishing your book, you may be able to produce both hard- and soft-covered books. Ask the question and get quotes. In addition to attracting a certain segment of readers, having a hard-covered version may be key to getting into some libraries. When a book is going to get a lot of wear, libraries prefer to have a book that will last longer. But if it’s going to cost them extra to send it out to be bound, they may decide it isn’t worth the extra investment. Offering a hard-covered edition makes their decision easier.

Color Illustrations
At most self-publishing printers, illustrations don’t cost anything extra if they are black and white. You just include the graphic on the pages along with the text. But if you want color illustrations, that’s a totally different story. 

Have you ever printed out photos or pictures from your computer at home? Then you know that colored ink is expensive and you need to print on much higher quality paper for the image to look good. On paper that works fine for text, illustrations just look drab and washed out. Better paper is another additional expense. 

If you are writing a business book and you need to publish graphs or some such, work with a graphic designer to see if you can show what you need to share using just black and white. If you are writing a children’s book and you really want colored illustrations, price it out early or you may be badly surprised. Publishing a book with colored pages will cost you about twice as much as a book with black and white pages.

For some writing projects, a certain sized book or illustrations in color is non-negotiable and that’s fine. Just do your research up front so you know what you are getting into before you’ve gone too far. Being an author is tough enough without adding more challenges!

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Author: Kate Gingold Host

Categories: Author Tips



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Kate Gingold from Sprocket WebsitesKate has been building websites with her husband Don since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Kate is an author herself. She writes books on local history, including the award-winning "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," a fictionalized account of the true story of Great Lake pioneering to the shores of Chicago and beyond to found Naperville, Illinois. 

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Following a presentation for In Print Professional Writers Group, Kate's husband (and publisher!) Don was interviewed by author Louise Brass for WBOM Radio. During the conversation, Don shared many of the marketing tips from his presentation. You can listen to it online here.