Rubbish looking books are selfish

How to make your book look rubbish

Get the free e-book "How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish" here:

Most self-published books are rubbish. Or at least they look like rubbish. By rubbish I mean garbage, trash, litter, junk, waste. Let’s take it further: excrement.

Some self-published books might have some good content in. They might. But who cares? They look like pap. Let’s face it. If the author couldn’t be bothered to package the content properly, what level of care do we assume went into the information contained within. Would you look forward to enjoying a sandwich if it was wrapped in toilet paper? You’d assume, quite rightly that there was a risk that the food was less than palatable, perhaps even poisonous. We judge a book by it’s cover too. And quite rightly so.

If you’ve ever bought an Apple product you know they have spent an awful lot of time and effort on making the unboxing of it a wonderful experience. The author of that cruddy looking self-published book didn’t give two hoots about your reading experience. All they cared about was their own content. How selfish is that?

They used to make me laugh. Now they make me sick. Here’s why.

Producing a cruddy book is selfish and arrogant. It’s as if the pig ignorant author is so haughty that they believe you should perceive them as an expert based on such flimsy evidence. It’s like they just couldn’t be bothered. But they would probably expect you to pay them extortionate fees for their consultant service or whatever new-media snake oil they’re flogging. Now they’re offering you something that’s going to lower the tone of your bookshelf.

It’s also selfish to the rest of us who really want to use self-publishing to deliver our excellent books to our audiences. The self-obsessed cheapskates are ruining the marketplace for us. Sooner or later, when people who hear your book was self-published may assume it’s total tut before they’ve even seen it.

This is why your books and products must not look like they are self-published. It’s not hard. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting dressed in a previously used big bag, so why send your expertise out in one?

Get the free e-book ‘How to Make Your Book Look Rubbish‘ here:

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3 comments on “Rubbish looking books are selfish

  1. Er, Ayd, I appreciate the theme, but a) not all self-published books look like shit, and not all mainstream publishers produce good-looking books. They might consider the form, but sometimes they forget the function. How many paperbacks are given so little gutter that you have to break the book’s spine to read it? How many paperbacks are set in such an inappropriate typeface that only the hawk-eyed can read it easily? How many books are given a professional cover that utterly misleads the buying public? Too many, is the answer. Granted, self-published books fall into several categories, the largest being professional and amateur – ie those produced by people who know how to produce a book – both content and design – and those without experience of one or both. And yes, I agree entirely that rubbishy-looking books do no-one any favours, especially the author; I’d recommend wholeheartedly that amateur self-publishers invest in a designer who understands the psychology of book-buying and the many sub-genres there are now in the market both for fiction and non-fiction: hard copy or ebook format.

  2. And then there’s the subject of cost, which not all self-pub authors can afford after forking out the dough for all the printing, marketing, etc. And whether or not the people hired to do artwork/layout for the cover know what they’re doing. And whether or not the publishers (in POD arena) charge massive fees for every little tweak that you request they make (and that they should never have biffed in the first place). And the fact that sometimes something looks brilliant on a small graphic and/or a full-size painting, but then doesn’t translate to a book cover well.

    But that said, I KNOW I need to re-do the cover of my book. Reviews for the story content on and offline have been very nice–especially considering that they were written by complete strangers for the most part–so I shall assume it isn’t total crap. But the cover won’t sell it to you. It really was more of a good illustration to go somewhere inside the book….

  3. I think someone needed to say this, Ayd- and, in many respects, I agree wholeheartedly. That said, I’ve read some excellent books with really ghastly covers- and not all of these have been self-published efforts.

    If we accept that many people really do judge a book by its cover (a depressing thought, but probably true), then those of us who simply cannot afford to pay for high-end design are advised to do what, exactly?

    I’ve read some great self-pub books (and some utter mince, too!), and I don’t like the idea of self-pub authors delaying the release of their work, or even losing heart and deciding not to bother at all, simply because they can’t afford smart design.

    Of course, the horrendous cover isn’t necessarily the preserve of the self-pub effort, either. Most of the books I own in editions pre-2000 have covers that are starting to look a bit tacky in retrospect- and these have been churned out by major publishers. I do understand that what you’re discussing is less a matter of fashion in design, and more a matter of simply taking a pride in what we put out there with our name attached, but I think it’s an interesting observation nonetheless. I’m not sure I can agree with what you seem to be suggesting, to wit (a) a less than stylish cover will always be the result of wilful arrogance on the part of the author, and hence that (b) the content will likely reflect this arrogance.

    Do I look at covers? Of course I do. Frankly, I don’t believe anyone who says they don’t! I too think it’s a shame when great material is cloaked in tack. However, I’ve appreciated many a great cover, only to find that that which it concealed was nothing short of travesty. In an ideal world, we could all afford covers with style and impact. In a flawed world, I think we may have to just try and see past it some of the time.

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