Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Illusion of Perfection

I was getting frustrated with my book cover. Please note the term was. Being I was, not am. I received my third proof in the mail, anxiously opened it, holding my breath in hopes that this would be it, I could approve the cover. But alas, no, the cover was still WRONG. One of the problems that I was having was the front was off centered, it looked like part of the shadow side's face was being chopped off and making it look horribly uncentered. With a little ingenuity, Keary figured out a solution. It worked... sorta. Some of the shadowed side still is cut off, but it's not as bad. The spine, on the other hand, it doesn't seem to want to center. And it's noticeably off-centered.

Can you see what I mean? It's off by about an eighth of an inch. Not much but it stands out like a sore thumb! (Also look at my pretty flip flop tan lines and in dire need of repainting toenails! Aren't my feet cute?)

So I fired off an email to Keary, detailing how it looks, along with some suspicion that CreateSpace isn't resizing as much as it should and instead, cutting off part of the image. Which is what is making the front look off centered. While lamenting, I informed her of how the spine is wrapping onto the front. I sent off the email and sat back to resist checking my email every minute to see if she replied back. (She hasn't yet.)

Then I noticed something. Something that propelled me to my bookshelf. The book I'm reading right now, Night Runner, by Max Turner, the spine wraps onto the front! Only by a little - a sixteenth of an inch. Which is what my spine was wrapping on my book. I got up and started pulling books and looking closer. A lot of them had wrapping spines. I even held a ruler up to one and noticed the font is off-centered by a fraction of an inch! It's not even noticeable to the blind eye!

Well, that made me feel so much better about my cover woes. It lessened the sting to know that these traditionally published books, books with teams of people working on them to make them perfect, also have the same problems I do. Not only that, but they also decided at some point that the book was as good as it was going to get, a little wrap of the spine wouldn't hurt sales, a fraction off center would be noticed by readers. And it's not unless you look close.

Want some proof? I took pictures!

 All along the edge of this cover, the spine creeps in.

 You wouldn't even notice that part of the cover wraps onto the spine here if not for Aaon's wing. (The Fallen by Thomas E. Sniegoski)

 It doesn't matter how old the book either. Publishers have been struggling with wrapping on the covers and spines for years. This is a 1967 print version of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. What you see at the bottom is the title on the spine wrapping to the back.

This is the worst one yet in my opinion. Poor Vlad, his spine isn't even straight! It creeps in at the top by the time it reached the bottom, the cover is creeping onto the spine.

This isn't a new problem. It's not publishers being lazy. It's a simple matter of there was nothing more to be done. They measured and tweaked and when it came to print, that small fraction refused to submit. Maybe it has to do when the book is printed and the machine that binds the pages into the book. Maybe the next copy to be printed was perfect, no wrapping what-so-ever. I don't know, but it makes me feel better to know that this isn't a self publishing problem. It's a general publishing problem, one that affects everyone and at some point someone decided that the little fraction of an inch that insisted on creeping onto the cover was unnoticeable enough. Good enough.

As for myself, I'm going to give it one more go. My only hope this time is to get the spine centered and maybe have a little less of the cover chopped off. Any wrapping I'll live with. Besides, does anyone really notice?


  1. Yeah, of the books I've published with Prizm books have a sliver of the spine wrapping around the front. Truth be told, I like the look, esp. since the spines have different colors from the cover, so there's that nice decorative edge on one side. And that color flows into the spine and into the back cover. So, yeah. Never saw any problems with that.

  2. To be honest I'm not sure anyonen apart from you would notice. Your book looks great, and the title on the spine looks intentionally a little off. Of course you should try to get it as close to how you want it as possible, but I think you're pretty close.


  3. I didn't notice at all!--I think your cover looks fantastic!!!

    --I did however notice that you're from Escanaba--I grew up in Marinette!!!--I feel like we're neighbors!!! (even though I'm in CA, now) ;)

    Congrats on your book!!!! That's really wonderful!!!

    Hope you have a great weekend!!! :)


  4. Ha! I didn't even notice it was off. Shows what I know. Personally, I don't think anything is ever perfect. Doesn't stop me from trying to obtain it though.

    BTW - I want a printed copy of Being Human. We'll be able to order these right?

  5. @Hayen, knowing that it's a common problem really makes me not care anymore. Plus my book cover is dark so it's really hard to tell anyways.

    @Mood, I'd like the spine to be centered, the way it is just looks wrong. Guess because I always imagined it centered. lol

    @Nymfaux, We can still call each other neightbors! =)

    @Melanie, yes there will be print copies. Keary said she was gonna contact createspace and talk to someone to see if we could get this sorted out.