Kudos to designer and editor

As an independently published author, one of the hardest lessons is that you need help. My first instinct is to do everything myself, but I’m not an expert in book cover design, and as much as I think I’m a good editor, editing your own work is impossible (something about having a fool for a client?). I’m also not a web designer, but have not yet broken down and hired somebody to help me with this website — that’s coming soon, probably.

When I self-published my first book in 2003, I did it through a “vanity” publishing house called XLibris. They handled the cover design, after I supplied a photo. It was decent. For my second book — my attempt to write the great american novel — I designed the cover myself. My wife, Sharon, took the photo of Low Library on the Columbia University campus, and I used a free cover-creator provided by Kindle Direct Publishing to add text to the picture. It’s not bad, and has significance to alumni of Columbia (the main target audience), but anyone flashing past it on a web site would hardly give it a second look unless they have a connection to Columbia (as does the story). So, as I prepared to publish my next book, a crime-thriller and a book that I think actually has mass-market appeal, I decided that I needed a cover that was going to grab the attention of prospective buyers/readers, and I needed a professional to do it for me.

After researching the elements of a successful book cover, and researched different vendors (and there are many), I settled on BespokeBookCovers.com, partly because I got a good vibe from their web site, good responsive email correspondence with the chief guy there (Peter), and partly because the price was reasonable (not the cheapest, but reasonable). I also was drawn in by the promise of “unlimited” corrections and revisions at no extra charge. It turns out that I made a great choice. Peter did a super job (cover is on the top header of the site, in case you didn’t notice), and the image proved useful also when building this web site, where I used the broken glass image as the main header. Peter went through a dozen drafts with me — changing the fonts, organization, spacing, image, etc. — until we got it right. I’m 100% sure that any buyers of the book who are not related to me will be directly due to the eye-catching cover.

And I also turned the manuscript of the book over to Samantha M. Chapman editing. The fact that Samantha is my daughter in no way diminishes her importance and value as an editor. She literally ripped the book apart, questioning logical premises, suggesting changes to structure and characters, totally revising the ending sequence, and providing hundreds of suggestions and edits that I would likely never have done on my own. The final structure and execution of the book is so very, very much better than it was when I gave Samantha my “final” manuscript. All independent authors need a good editor, and the money is well spent. Other writers can contact Samantha at https://www.samanthachapmanediting.com.


It is gratifying to be so close to the end of the pre-publication process and getting ready for the post-publication (marketing) portion of the program.  Any success I have in this next phase will be due, in large part, to Peter and Samantha.  Thanks, guys.

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