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Snobism has come to an end: Independent book design is making up ground
He' s been on the FutureBook 40's prestige innovation roster - and Stuart Bache thinks that independent writers are leaders when it comes to..... It' an exiting period to be a self-published "indie" writer. In recent years it has evolved from a relatively small - and often ignored - part of the publishers' business into a flourishing group.
Ranging from expert marketing by best-selling writers like Mark Dawson with his self-publishing formula classes to making sure their work meets the standards by employing professionals, independent writers have gone out of the limelight and become champions of their own destiny. The most harshly ridiculed self-publication tradition is the book cover (there are whole sites devoted to the worst).
You can understand these cover art if you keep one thing in mind: the budgets of an independent car. Previously, self-published authors had three options: they paid a professional artist (whose fees may be higher than their overall publication budget), use a budgetary design website (often full of artists who know nothing about publishing), or launch their own PCs and use Paint or an old Photoshop release to do it.
Before I started Book Covers in 2015 with my missus, we had seen small design agencies - mostly in the US - dedicated to the independent writers, making some good-covering. From the very beginning of our company, one of our objectives was to offer an accessible design services for self-published writers that could be located next to our primary revenue stream, the publisher's customers.
Only a few seconds we were immersed in the self-editing community before we were gripped by the authors' excitement and enthusiastic approach to publication. Some of our independent customers were phenomenal. There' are whole Facebook community where an editor can get tips on how to market and get referrals from writers and design professionals - the Facebook community is one of the best.
To become part of this realm was to see self-publication in a new perspective. This was a flourishing business that was willing to study and cross the borders of what was possible for an writer who had no contract with a publisher and had to do everything himself. Our design services for self-published writers quickly overhauled our other objectives and became our primary revenue stream.
A writer's budgets can still be small, especially for new writers who start their career, but there are many more than before. A writer can now buy a ready-made book artwork - which, as the word implies, is a ready-made design to which you can put both your name and your song - and that makes it an excellent first artwork and can be sold for anything from £99 to £150.
There are many more design pros and businesses like ours who focus not only on lower priced but also on higher value covers and promotional material (such as Facebook and BookBub advertising). But there was a self-published design area that required much more focus - the do-it-yourself album.
We have always worked very close with Self-Publishing Formula. They can even get a rebate for their schoolchildren. In 2016 we already wrote a brief book design guide for the SPF 101 course and it was very well received. After a year of careful research, we have worked long and hard to develop our own course that gives writers (not just self-published authors) the tools to better comprehend the entire design process: how to find and better interact with a design, how both Amazon and bookstores use artwork to use it to produce more than one book, how to write a briefing, and.... give them the skill and expertise to make their own artwork.
All of them have direct contact with a group on Facebook, where they can get tips and criticism about their own design and professional artwork. It' s very vivid and upbeat - as you would think of an independent authoring fellowship - and some of the work our student have done has been just astonishing.
From the start I have also been writing a book entitled The Author's Guide to Cover Design, which is full of similar course hints, but goes into much more detail about the design processes, both when working with a designer and when making your own design (published in June - well, of course self-published).
Of course, neither the course nor the book will substitute the knowledge and talents of a professional designe. It' just another choice for those who have a good money. That' s the big thing the self-publishing sector has been teaching me, and that's why I think it's only going to get stronger: when a room is locked for you or you can't provide any services, there are always other ways.
That is seldom the case in conventional publishers. Of course, the coming of design in self-publishing will bring more selection and better qualitiy - it would be hard to see the differences between many self-published e-books and those that have been the tradition. But if and when this becomes more accessible, I frankly don't think you'll know if the book you're looking at is from an independent or not.
Self-editing is about innovating and adapting. Independent writers are ready to acquire new abilities and go different ways. In some cases, their capacity to promote their own works and understanding their genres surpasses that of the conventional publisher.