One of the real strengths of the self-publishing community is its ability to quickly identify its weaknesses and shortcomings and find cost-effective and workable solutions when authors globally share their experiences, information and resources. I've worked in a number of different sectors, from retail, artist management and promotion, through to publishing, but I don't think I've experienced any of these sectors deal quite so well with harnessing community resources and embracing digital change. Perhaps music artists run a close second behind self-published authors. While the mainstream publishing industry has its share of professional groups, online communities, book fairs and conferences with diverse and individual interests, the whole never seems to be greater than the sum of its parts. The self-publishing community has learned a great deal from the mainstream publishing industry, but I can't always say the reverse is true.
The best ideas are often the simplest.
Several weeks ago, Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer, launched a new service for self-published authors called BookDesignTemplates.com, a website selling professionally designed and cost-effective interior book templates in MS Word. Friedlander had finally decided to stop trying to convince self-published authors that MS Word was not an ideal tool for an interior book design template. Instead, while still holding to his principle, he decided to at least offer self-published authors a solution by designing MS Word templates to as high a standard as the word processing program allowed.
SelfPubBookCovers LLC is a partnership between author Shoshanna Evers and graphic artist Rob Sturtz. Shoshanna Evers is a critically-acclaimed Amazon Erotica Bestselling author who has written dozens of sexy stories including the self-published Overheated, and The Enslaved Trilogy, which releases in April 2013 from Simon & Schuster. Rob Sturtz is an entrepreneurial professional graphic designer who has worked for many Fortune 500 companies doing web, print and logo design for nearly thirty years. Launched in February 2013, SelfPubBookCovers.com also takes a simple idea and presents it as a viable solution for self-published authors and book cover designers. The company's website is the place to go for authors looking for a one-of-a-kind professional book cover at a fair price, with many covers starting at just $69. It also functions as a portfolio and marketplace for book designers and graphic artists.
SelfPubBookCovers.com features more than 1000 book covers for self-publishing authors of all genres. There, using simple online tools like Lulu and CreateSpaces's websites, an author can customise and immediately download the high-quality 300dpi resolution covers for their books. It also enables graphic artists the opportunity to post their cover designs for sale at the price they choose. Unlike Lulu and CreateSpace, the covers are not template-based textures and generic stock photographs, but professionally designed covers of pretty high quality. Once an author buys a cover, it is then taken off the website, never to be bought again. The ability for authors to customise pre-made book covers with text themselves online—or completely rework the image offline—and still have instant access to it is a welcome feature.
Previously, indie authors either paid hundreds of dollars for a custom cover, waiting weeks for it to be ready, or bought a stock photo and slapped a title and author name on it themselves. SelfPubBookCovers.com contrasts sharply with stock photo sites, where clones of the same book cover appear multiple authors use the same image for their book covers without altering it. Cover prices start on the website at $69, rising up to $125, but I should point out that this initial purchase, while providing an original book cover with two files (one for print and one for e-book), it is only the front cover. Authors can choose basic spine and back cover templates to add for $80, or request the designer to create a customised one, but I think this is one big drawback of the service. I'd much rather have the ability to design and finish my cover online and pay the $150 there and then. It would mean submitting book designers would have to complete a full back and front design, but I suspect that most authors shopping for the service will want that.
Company co-founder Shoshanna Evers explains her primary reason for starting the book cover service.
“You may have written a potential bestseller, but no one will know if your cover doesn’t grab readers’ attention—people do judge a book by its cover.”
Rob Sturtz, a freelance graphic artist and co-founded with Evers, thinks they have the measure of what self-published authors need, whether for a single book in any genre or a series of books. The author can buy the series covers there and then.
“This is a partnership between a multipublished author who knows what writers are looking for, and myself, a graphic designer who knows what artists need to open up another revenue stream and tap into the self-pub indie market. I talked with one author who visited the site to look at our covers for story ideas. She ended up choosing half a dozen.”
I think the site, while in beta, still requires a few tweaks, and I'd like to see a full forum where author clients and designers could exchange ideas and job requests. At the moment Sturtz and Evers liaise between author clients and book designers, with the designer getting 70% of the service price charged to authors. SelfPubBookCovers.com actually makes a great combination to use along with Joel Friedlander's BookDesignTemplates.com and competition in this area is going to grow. DeviatArt.com has just rejigged their website and that also looks very promising as another design source for self-published authors.