Mill Park Publishing of Eagle, Idaho was created in 2003 by author Elaine Ambrose.
The company facilitates fee-based book publication and marketing for local authors
and organizes writer's retreats.

Sunday, 10 April 2011 17:48

You Can Identify a (Self-Published) Book by Its Cover

Written by  Elaine Ambrose

 I’ll never forget when the box arrived with my copies of Menopause Sucks. I ripped apart the box and held my “baby” – the results of my first national book publishing contract. The front cover featured a woman with her head in the freezer – perfect! Then I turned it over and my exuberance turned into irritation because my biography was all wrong. The publisher listed my correct information on the inside back page but not on the back cover.  And, there was nothing I could do about it because the writer has no control over a book’s cover when it’s published by a national publisher.

A book’s cover provides the first and most important way to attract attention to a book. The cover also indicates the content’s credibility. We’ve all seen self-published books that look like a school project and have no hope of gaining respect from readers. Stapled bindings, amateur artwork, sloppy editing, and untrained writing often indicate that the book only will be appreciated by family members and then languish in boxes in the writer’s garage.  

Prior to writing Menopause Sucks, I had written and published four other books through my publishing company, Mill Park Publishing. This allowed me to control what was on the cover, and I wanted a professional appearance.  For Gators & Taters, I hired Ernie Monroe, an artist who worked for a local advertising agency. His illustrations were professional and delightful. For The Magic Potato, I hired Heidi Winchel, an artist from McCall, and gave her the formidable task to draw a flying potato.

For The Red Tease, I wrote to Jill Neal, the artist whose “wild women” pieces have been popular at the local Arts in the Park event. She allowed me to use one of her prints on the cover. We then arranged several book signing events at her gallery in Bend, Oregon. Recently we collaborated on another marketing venture as I used a piece of her art for the label on Menopause Merlot from Bitner Vineyards.

The cover of Daily Erotica was designed by one of the co-authors, Liza Walton. She created an elegant, romantic appearance. We gave the book an edgy title, mainly because Daily Poems just wouldn’t sell!

Mill Park Publishing is releasing two new books this spring, and the covers are wonderful. Author Gretchen Anderson enlisted the assistance of a high school friend and successful designer for her cover on The Backyard Chicken Fight. Author Patti Murphy asked local designer Sally Stevens to create the retro-looking cover of Mother Knows Best. Both covers are perfect for the books.

If you’re considering self-publishing a book, it’s not enough to just write the text. I recommend getting professional design assistance and/or taking some design classes and reading books about self-publishing. I used two main recourses:  The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross and The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter. Then when your books arrive, you go from writer and designer to marketer. It’s an exciting process.

Last modified on Sunday, 10 April 2011 18:01

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