Publishing a Book with Outskirts Press – What Type of Cover to Get?

The pre-production process with Outskirts Press is designed to “lead”  you gradually into the more “difficult” areas.  Most, if not all, authors know right off the bat what format (paperback, hardback, both) they want for their book.  Therefore, that “choice” is first.

And most authors have been visualizing their cover in their head since the moment they started writing Page 1.  That’s why this choice is second. Authors are anxious to figure out their cover. But with this excitement comes the possibility for rash decisions.  Since most authors have visualized their cover in their head since Page 1, many are inclined to “submit their own cover” without realizing the ramifications of that choice.  Have you been visualizing the back cover since Page 1? Have you been visualizing the spine? How about the ISBN and the barcode and the BISAC code?  Have you been visualizing how wide the spine is (which is related to not only the number of pages in your book, but also the thickness of the paper)?  Have you been visualizing an image that a) you own the copyright to and b) is a high enough resolution for high-quality printing?

In other words, there is a reason we offer so many cover choices and flexibility. Covers are fun, but doing them correctly is hard.   Let’s be honest: When you look at most self-published books, the cover is often enough to tell you how “cheaply” the book was published, which, fair or not, also implies just how “good or bad” the whole book is in your mind.  You’re not the only one who uses covers to pass judgment on books.  Book reviewers do it.  So do agents and publishers.   So do readers.

So these are some things to keep in mind as you come upon the next phase of the pre-production process, which is selecting your cover type. For the sake of brevity and bandwidth, this image below is “collapsed” because I quite literally cannot possibly show you ALL the choices we offer to authors on one screen:

When you see this screen in your Publishing Center, clicking on the Section Heading will “collapse” and “open” each category. This will make the cover options easier to navigate. You can see in the screen shot above that two of the categories have been collapsed because, for all intents and purposes, the discussion of covers really should fall within one of the three custom choices shown.

Yes, we offer many professionally-designed cover styles with or without images and all those pre-designed cover styles are freely included in our publishing packages. The number of available cover themes depends upon your package. If necessary, you may wish to upgrade to get more choices. If so, your Publishing Center will show an “Upgrade Package” button.   For Fandemonium, I already have the top-of-the-line Diamond package, so I have all the possible cover choices.  Again, in the image above you cannot see any of the cover themes, because I’ve collapsed those choices. Every category will be open to browse within your own Publishing Center.

Naturally, I recommend the Professionally Designed Custom Cover. It’s the easiest and best choice.  We handle everything.  And besides, if you were to get a bid from a cover designer to create a custom cover for you independently of Outskirts Press, it would cost between $500-$1500 on average. Our Custom Covers cost $299 and you receive 2 different concepts (both based upon your description or, if you don’t know what to suggest, based upon our designer’s recommendation). Choose the concept you like best, make moderate adjustments, and boom, you have the single most important facet for marketing your book after it is published.  At the same time, you don’t have to worry about ANY of those details I described above; we take care of everything!

A custom cover is basically a must for a fiction book, a cookbook, or poetry.  Some non-fiction books may be able to get away with a well-designed cover without an image, although even then, a custom cover is going to be better received than a pre-designed style.  And if you are publishing a book for kids, you definitely should have an appropriate image on your cover, which typically means either a custom cover along with one of the interior illustrations, or the Professionally Illustrated Artistic Cover option.

In my 10 year experience as the CEO of Outskirts Press, authors submitting their own “Author-submitted print-ready cover” run into the biggest hurdles during production. This is because the covers we receive from authors are rarely (I might even be so bold as to say never) print-ready.  Remember all those details I described above? You have to worry about all of them.  If you choose this option, we will assume you (or your designer) are proficient with book specs and terminology, have access to professional grade software like Illustrator and inDesign, and know how to create a print-ready file according to our specifications (we’ll provide those specs to you when you choose this option, or you can read them in advance from our Help Screens).  If that doesn’t describe you or your designer, I highly encourage you to choose a different option. If you insist upon submitting a print-ready file, please read ALL the details about this option very carefully when we present the requirements and details within your Publishing Center, and plan to carefully follow all the precise instructions. It can be expensive later if you don’t, and it will slow everything down.

Interestingly, many authors assume they’re saving us money and making it easier and faster for us when they elect to submit their own covers.  Let me be the first to dispel that myth.  It’s harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming.  Why? Because each author provides a file in a slightly different way, with slightly different specifications, and almost never according to our specs.  Nothing is uniform; and irregularity within production-related industries causes problems, and problems cause delays and expense.  On the other hand, when we design our covers in-house for authors, either the custom covers or the free cover styles, they all meet very precise specifications.  Simply put, systemization like that is faster and more efficient.

It probably goes without saying that for Fandemonium Volume 2, I’m selecting the custom cover option. And we’ll get to the details of that next…