So you want to be a self-published author. Good for you. Jump on that bandwagon and make your fortune, seize the moment, the future is yours! First though write a novel. No, not a first draft. I mean something that has been through the tender loving ministrations of countless drafts and revisions, that has been read by friends and enemies and raked over the coals. A finished product, gleaming and perfect, or as close to perfect as you can get. That done, turn it into an eBook, create a cover, write the back copy, upload it to Amazon, et voila! You’re self-published. Now get to the marketing, you marketing monkey you.

But, hold up. An eBook cannot be held in your eager little hands. It cannot be shown to your mother as proof that you are actually self-published, since she’ll be forced to squint at your Kindle screen and nod dubiously as you assure her that yes, in 2012, that counts as a real book. No, if you want the real thing, and by the real thing I mean what a book was understood to be about ten years ago, then you need to print that sucker. And now we’re talking a whole different story.

See, it’s one thing to design a cover for an eBook that’s meant to be viewed at 72 dpi on the computer screen, no larger than a thumbnail or the palm of your hand. A real cover needs to look good at 300 dpi, and wrap around the spine and the back. You need a theme that holds together across it all, a professional feel, that gloriously silky touch. You need a book that will look sexy on the shelf, that will be comfortable rubbing shoulders with the classics without looking déclassé.

How does one go about pulling off said feat? You either plonk down some hard earned moolah and hire a designer, or roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Which is what I just did for my three novels.

First off, you start with a template which CreateSpace (the Amazon affiliate that prints your books for a delightfully high fee) generously generates for you. This layout is dependent on the number of pages in your book (determines the width of the spine) and the size of your cover (trade paperback? mass market?). Here’s an example of one:

Looks pretty simple, right? It actually is. Now, what you’ll already have on your hands is the front cover. What you need to do is resize that so that it fits, and then create the rest. What goes on the back cover? The spine? More graphics? How do you make it fit with the front? How to make a seamless whole?
Here’s what I came up with:

I’m actually pretty pleased with the result. The Grind Show is already available directly from CreateSpace, and will soon (as in a couple of days) be available on Amazon too. Throne and Crude Sunlight should be available in a couple of weeks, as I need to still approve the proofs.
Still! Who knew design work could be such fun? Luckily for me, I find it so.