Bear with me…this really will be a blog post about the best use of your time as an author, entrepreneur, and indie publisher.

Print-on-demand companies IngramSpark and CreateSpace, and digital and offset printing companies, have very specific requirements for your book files, both cover and interior files.

In fact, the requirements for digital printing of cover files warranted an entire guest post from Sandy Gould of Color House Graphics on our blog a couple of years ago!

IngramSpark provides a 35-page guide (35 pages!) for file creation, which you can download here. On the same page you’ll find a PDF checklist and a guide to self-publishing best practices. IngramSpark also provides a handy downloadable cover template. This template gives you the margin guides and bleeds into which you can fit your book cover. They provide templates for InDesign and for a PDF—not for Word. There’s a reason for that; on their PDF checklist, they say that PDFs created by the “save” function in Word aren’t acceptable.

For those who are not aware, IngramSpark is THE print-on-demand gateway for distributing and selling your book online and in brick-and-mortar stores globally. We suggest that CreateSpace be used for distribution to Amazon, and IngramSpark for everything else.

I say all this as a preface to telling you about the reaction I had from someone recently, when I explained that rescuing and recreating their book cover to make it acceptable for IngramSpark would cost $250. The author’s book cover files had been rejected repeatedly by the IngramSpark system. There were myriad issues with the cover file, created in Word and printed to a PDF: IngramSpark wouldn’t accept the PDF, the fonts weren’t embedded, and the resolution of the cover image was not high enough.

The author felt that $250 seemed a little expensive, given that the work shouldn’t take that long for “someone who knows what they are doing.”

Perhaps my lesson is not to give out a price quote before first seeing the files, but in reality, it all comes down to how much a person’s time is worth.

And the question is not what MY time is worth, but what YOUR time is worth.

One has to wonder how long someone without experience in the use of graphic design software might spend to create a book cover. One hour? Five hours? Twenty hours? InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator all take hours to master. Trying to put together a book cover file in Word would be a terribly frustrating experience, because Word is not graphic design software.

No doubt you’ve heard this advice before: when the worth you attach to your time is higher than it would cost to hire someone to do the job for you, then you should hire someone to do the job for you.

Here’s how it works:

If you’re an entrepreneur—a small business owner perhaps—the worth of your time can be based on the tasks you would leave undone while you were attending to something else. Perhaps you’d have to leave the billing, ordering, payroll or other tasks undone while you messed around getting that image just right.

If you’re a lawyer, consultant, doctor—someone who bills clients on an hourly basis—figuring out what your time is worth is simple. Any time taken away from working directly with a client is not billable. Losing fifteen hours to InDesign could be detrimental to your bottom line.

And if you decide to sacrifice time spent with family and friends, or time spent on a favorite hobby or seeing the world—those moments are priceless. What worth can you attach to missing your child’s soccer game while you figure out why Word won’t embed the fonts in Adobe Acrobat?

Take a realistic look at how long it might take you to format your book cover or interior files properly. Don’t forget to include time to read IngramSpark’s 35-page guide, the time to learn the software, the time to YouTube “how to format a book cover” or Google “why does image resolution matter?” Add on time to search for just the right image, the cost to purchase it, and the time to edit it down to size. Bonus time (and expense) for replacing the RGB image with the proper CMYK version, and more time to Google “CMYK.” Then there’s the time to download IngramSpark’s handy template with the correct margins, bleeds and crop marks, and the time to figure out why you can’t use their template in Word. And the time to figure out why IngramSpark won’t accept your file.

Without trying very hard, my bet is that you will quickly rack up twenty hours or more.

Yes, our “Basic Cover Design” package—which includes the purchase of two stock images, image editing, custom typography, a free bar code and a complementary eBook cover—is $715. Divide $715 by 20 hours, and that’s $35.75 per hour.

Ask yourself this: is your time worth more than $35.75 per hour to end up with a unique book cover that competes with the best sellers in your genre, one that you’ll be proud to show off and call your own?

Yes, your time is worth more; your time is invaluable. Don’t waste it in Word—call us instead!



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