You’ve heard it all before: people aren’t morally opposed to reading self-published works, but they are aesthetically opposed to reading books of substandard appearance and physical quality–which they often equate with the same thing.

But here’s a fact: to self-publish doesn’t mean you’re accepting a lesser standard of quality, and to read self-published books isn’t to lower some standard out of pity or poor taste.  Many self-published books are already beautiful.  Did anyone see Andy Weir’s original cover for The Martian?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Or how about Christopher Paolini’s covers for Eragon and its sequels?  Those are sometimes said to have helped reshape Young Adult fantasy book covers for the last decade.  And what’s true for the outside of a book is true for the inside, too.  A self-published book can’t automatically be said to have substandard interior design, with faulty formatting and messy editing.  And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think we can even pass this off as a “well, we’ve just gotten better at it with so much practice!” sort of situation.

The truth of the matter is, there is and always has been a powerful stigma to self-publishing, a stigma so ubiquitous and so powerful that it has warped our perception of reality to the extent that even actual self-publishing authors sometimes believe they’re choosing something second-rate, that going indie is a fallback after failure to reach actual success (often equated with traditional publishing).  And while many people do come to self-publishing after doing other things first, that’s beside the point.  The self-publishing world is an inclusive one, where maybe we can begin to heal some of the systemic hurts enforced and policed by traditional publishing.

There have ALWAYS been many beautiful self-published books, just as there have always been some that are less beautiful.  But the same goes for traditionally published books; just because one of the Big Five publishers takes you on doesn’t mean they actually care about the quality of your book’s design, production, and manufacture.  They can more than make up for letting a few books fall through the cracks by pushing sales for next year’s blockbuster success story.  In the world of self-publishing, however, every book matters–no matter its genre, its author’s point of origin, or how much money has been poured into its creation.  If it’s an interesting concept, with an eye-catching cover, readers will show up for it.

A book’s appearance matters.  Its author matters.  Its content matters.

Its publisher, ultimately, doesn’t.

So, over the coming weeks, we’re going to spend some time looking at what makes a book beautiful–and how a book’s appeal can be turned into a currency of its own, something useful to the author’s bank account.  And of course we will dedicate page space each week to talking about how to coax out just a little bit more of that beauty with each facet of a book’s design.

book art


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, 10:00 AM

One thought on “The Book Beautiful

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