Chris A. Baird | April 27, 2024
Self Publishing Hardcover - A Total Manual - Blog

Have you been looking for ways to self-publish hardcover books? Here’s a total manual to guide you all the way. 

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So, you've been putting off creating hardcover versions of your book because who wants to buy those anyway, right? The paperback or maybe the eBook version would be more popular. But if you're doing that, that's a huge mistake. You're going to want to stick around.

So, in today's topic, we are going to discuss self-publishing hardcover - a total manual. Let's get right into it with the introduction: the definition of self-publishing hardcover books. Now, the key to this is the issue of what we mean by hardcover books.

Definition of self-publishing hardcover books

Well, it's going to be the hardcover, right? I mean, it's kind of obvious there. But independently producing it and not going through a traditional publisher, and you have complete control over the book.

But it also involves some additional things to consider. And the 'why' you're doing it is a very important aspect of this idea when you're jumping into hardcover books.

Advantages and benefits of self-publishing in hardcover format

Now, advantages and benefits of self-publishing in hardcover format. There are a couple of things. One is the enhanced perceived value of your book itself. The hardcover book creates the perception of quality and prestige. That's one of the reasons many books first come out in hardcover. 

They also make a lot more money when coming out in just the hardcover only. So, it says, 'Look, you want this book on your bookshelf,' and people usually are looking at hardcover books as a higher quality book. The other is the creative control that you can control exactly different aspects of the hardcover book. 

Depending upon which platform you're using, like IngramSpark and stuff. It gives you the ability to control that. And then the expanded market opportunities by having hardcover, in some ways, you'll find that it distributes in certain ways. Now, the paperback is going to have a wider distribution. But the hardcover also will give you some options that you might not have considered otherwise.

Overview of the content structure

Now, the overview of the content structure. So, the first thing is you're going to have a content organization. You're going to be putting together your hardcover books. You're going to be putting together the content in a way that is easy to read. You're going to use a hierarchical layout. 

Assuming we're dealing with the issue of a non-fiction book in a fiction book. Well, you'll have just like your standard sort of table of contents and things that you'd have on the layout. And then in terms of the visual and textual representation inside of the book, make sure that the formatting is done properly inside.

But the beauty is, the formatting doesn't have to be any different than it is for your paperback book. But when you're producing these, the thickness of the paper depends upon what you have. Like if you're doing comics and other things like that, you're going to want to compare exactly how that quality is going to come out. You order a sample copy of your book to see how exactly it looks. 

Understanding Hardcover Self-Publishing

Now understanding hardcover self-publishing. Let us learn more about hardcover books and how you can self-publish them.

What is a hardcover book?

Well, it's going to have a protective cover. Sometimes it'll even have just the standard hardcover, that's one option. Or you can have a sleeve, a dust jacket, on the hardcover book. So that gives you the durability of the hardcover where it's going to last a lot longer. That also gives that perceived value, like this thing isn't going to be falling apart. 

And the professional appearance. That's one of the big things that we find with the hardcover books, they're most associated with a professional, premium-quality look and feel. That's why a lot of people prefer this when they're coming out with a book that somebody may want to read again or have it looking good on their bookshelf. That's a key issue.

The appeal and market demand for hardcover books

Then you have the appeal and the market demand for hardcover books, again with the prestige and collectibility. A lot of people are not collecting paperback books. Gift-worthy people love to receive books that are hardcover; they just have this high-quality thing.

And then there's a niche market. Some people enjoy reading hardcover books and are not going to be reading your standard paperbacks. So that's what they like, and we like to have books available in the format that they like to read, and that is hardcover books.

Key considerations for authors choosing hardcover self-publishing

Now, key considerations for authors choosing hardcover self-publishing. The first is production cost. It's going to be a lot higher on the hardcover books, especially if you're using colored images and things inside of the book, so the cost is going to go up. 

We're going to our target audience; that's going to be the issue, which is some people enjoy reading only hardcover books, and when they're going to make these orders, they look and see that there is that type of book available and place the order. 

The other is the marketing strategy. And this is one I want to hit on: the concept of price anchoring. Where you have your eBook at a really low price, then we have our paperback in the middle, and the hardcover book at the top price. Your eBook might be $2.99; paperback, let's say $14.99; and then your hardcover book at $25.99. 

Now, the funny thing is your hardcover book's main reason for being there is to sell your paperback. That's right, you think I'm talking crazy nonsense, but I am not, because the fact is, you have your bottom range, which is the eBook. Most people don't like reading eBooks. 

Now, I personally only read eBooks, but most people, don't do that. Then you have your high end, that's that $25.99 for your hardcover book, and then your paperback is right in the middle. That makes it look like the most reasonable price, right in the middle.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, it's not like the quality goes up or down, or what's reasonable or not reasonable. The value has absolutely nothing to do with price. The price of the book has to do with the book itself. But the problem is, for most of us, there's a cognitive bias when we see this price anchoring.

There's a low price, there's a high price, and the one in the middle automatically seems very reasonable. So we have hardcover books from a marketing standpoint to sell more paperbacks. I know that's crazy, but that is exactly what occurs here. 

Preparing Your Hardcover Manuscript

So, the first thing is editing and proofreading your content to ensure quality. What are we going to do? 

Editing and proofreading your content to ensure quality

Well, we need quality assurance to make sure this thing is as high quality as possible, so you're going to be editing and proofreading. Now, granted, your interior file, this PDF file that you're using for your hardcover book, is the same one you use for your paperback. That's a little dirty secret a lot of people are not aware of. 

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You think of it as if it needs to be in this completely different format. No, the same thing as your paperback. The other thing is you need clarity and flow inside of the content of the book, and you want to build credibility on the entire thing. 

Formatting guidelines for hardcover books

The next thing to remember is the formatting guidelines for hardcover books. There are a couple of things. One is the page layout to make sure the pages look crisp and positive. When you're doing that, you have typography and fonts to make sure that those are all going to be popping off the pages, making it easy on people's eyes when they're reading.

And then chapter headings and elements, and there's a lot of things around the thing, both in terms of the spacing. We have on the pages where your page number, what's at the top of each page, the headers, the footers, all of this stuff comes together to present this book as a high-quality book that people are going to want to own and keep on their bookshelf. And that's one of the key things we have to consider when you're looking at hardcover books.

Selecting the appropriate trim size and layout options

Now, select the appropriate trim size and layout options. On the trim size, I'm telling you the best way to go is 6x9. Amazon itself tells you that's the maximum distribution. Plus, once you produce that hardcover book, you can use it on all of the platforms, assuming you're choosing 6x9. It goes through everything; there's no platform it's like, "Oh, 6x9, we don't cover that one." 

Nope, they all take it. I believe they call it "trade" as the name of that layout option. And then you're going to have the layout options you want: single column or double column. I use a program called Jutoh. That's the program I use for doing my book formatting. I do not suggest outsourcing that; do it yourself so you can control exactly how this thing looks.

I even have, of course, my Book Formatting Made Easy. Then you have the aesthetic considerations in terms of the design. The white space around it, the page numbering, header, or footer like we were talking about; all of these things have to be considered. That's one of the reasons why I have a template that I like to use that my clients use when it comes to using Jutoh to make sure that it looks great.

Designing the Hardcover Book Cover

Now, designing the hardcover book. The first thing is the importance of a compelling hardcover book cover design. And that means that you're going to want to make sure you attract attention with this cover design, so it's like popping off the page. 

Importance of a compelling hardcover book cover design

There is the genre and the content representation to make sure that the cover matches the best sellers in your genre so that it fits in nicely and easily, and brand identity, it's something that can be recognized that you have done this entire thing. Which is something you need to do. 

Working with professional designers or DIY options

Now, working with professional designers or a do-it-yourself option. Expertise and creativity: below in the description, you will find the cover designer that I would recommend, the one I also use through Fiverr. Using somebody professional can be fantastic, and can help you out there. 

And then customization, where the designers you're able to get in there and exactly say how you'd like it to be. That's one of the advantages of self-publishing; you don't have to tolerate or put up with all sorts of nonsense you have if you're not controlling anything. And then just saving time, I do not recommend you do it yourself when it comes to the covers.

Incorporating key elements that represent your book's content

Now, there are a couple of things to remember here. One is visual themes: using images, symbols, and artwork on the cover that would make it easy for people to see the content and understand what this book is about. The color palette and the typography, like we were talking about, will also make it easy for people to see them.

And then the back cover blurb and I would suggest using ChatGPT to generate that. I do this all the time with my group coaching clients, showing exactly how to use these tools to get the best out of the cover. And believe it or not, it's not just like "write me a blurb," it's a lot more advanced than that. You can check out my offer for group coaching.

Choosing Printing and Binding Options

You're going to need to understand printing methods for hardcover books. You have to understand we have offset printing, we have digital printing, we have binding techniques. 

Understanding printing methods for hardcover books

Each of the different platforms uses a lot of different things in terms of when they're producing these books. Now, for the offset printing, I would do the print on demand because the fact is that even if these other ones can give you a lot, you do not want a garage filled with 5,000 books. That is a terrible idea, my friend. It's a lot better to have a higher price on the book, and they're just printing out as people make the orders.

Selecting the right paper type and quality for your book

Selecting the right paper type and quality for your book is going to require a lot of back and forth. You're going to place it, do the best that you can, and watch YouTube videos that discuss this exact subject, like for example, figuring out the right paper weight, the paper texture, acid-free or archival paper.

There are lots of choices you're going to need to make when it comes to choosing the right paper for your book, and it is going to have an impact on what exactly your end reader is experiencing when it comes to your book. 

Exploring different binding techniques and their impact on durability

You have case binding; it's a durable method commonly used for hardcover books where the book block is sewn and glued into a cloth or paper cover, enduring very long-lasting strength and stability. So, that's one thing you get there or SME Zone binding.

This involves stitching together the book's pages into small sections before binding them to the cover. Or, library binding; it's an extremely sturdy binding technique often used by books in public libraries and schools, employing reinforced stitching and materials to withstand heavy use and long-term durability.

So that means they're hanging together, but you can see there are an awful lot of options. This is one of the reasons why I like to go on YouTube, just so I can see what these different options look like for my clients in my group coaching.

They're continually sharing and trying different techniques, ordering from Lulu, IngramSpark, and Amazon, comparing how these books look, especially in hardback, and then seeing how the coloring goes as well. 

Budgeting and Cost Considerations

Budgeting and cost considerations involve estimating the expenses of self-publishing a hardcover book. 

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Estimating the expenses of self-publishing a hardcover book

The first thing on the production cost, assuming you're doing it right, it should cost you absolutely nothing. You've already put everything together; you just need to use the template for your main cover that you have to produce this thing.

So that's the first thing I would just comment on the price doesn't have to be anything. Editing and proofreading would be the same for your ebook or your paperback, so you've already got that in place. 

Then distribution and marketing—you're going to want maximum distribution. The reason we're going in the hardcover is to have all of the formats we possibly can have. From your eBook, your paperback, your hardcover, audiobook, all of these things. Then making sure we're getting that maximum distribution as we're trying to market this thing. 

Tips for cost-saving without compromising on quality

The first thing is print-on-demand. That is the direction you should be going. There is no reason at all that you should have a garage filled with these books. Do your editing yourself; you can use tools like Grammarly to get the most out of do-it-yourself editing.

Let these tools do it for you if you don't have a budget to afford regular editors to go through your book. Then, a digital-first approach: prioritize the eBook formats and online sales. Now, you should always have the eBook out because that will be necessary in order to get your audiobook produced.

Secondly, it amplifies your ads. I don't want to give away too many secrets because I like to reserve that for my one-on-one clients and my group coaching clients, but let's just say the eBooks also have one goal: to help you sell more paperbacks. Now, I know that's crazy, but we'll talk about that in another blog or if you want to join one of my programs, I'll talk to you on the other side of that as well. 

Weighing the potential returns and investment in hardcover publishing

The first thing is the production costs; it's pricey. It's going to be pricey, but people who love hardcover books are willing to pay. The second consideration is the audience in the market, just making sure that there is, in fact, an audience. 

But I would do the hardcover anyway, even if there was zero audience. We're not even trying to make sales; we're just trying to sell those paperbacks. Then, there are the author's goals. What exactly are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve with your hardcover book? 

That's something you need to be honest with yourself about and try to figure out. But sometimes you don't know until you have it on the market. So why not just get it on the market? Let's find out, then you'll be in a better position to set goals.

Self-Publishing Platforms for Hardcover Books

The next thing is self-publishing platforms for hardcover books is an overview of popular platforms that support hardcover self-publishing.

Overview of popular platforms that support hardcover self-publishing

Like IngramSpark, the coloring can be a challenge there, with little stripes or blacks not completely black. As well as Amazon or Lulu, also offer some advantages but are not as good as IngramSpark. 

The quality sometimes in the colors, like black on black, Amazon still wins. But in some of their productions, the books can be a little twisted and damaged in the mail. And I have seen on IngramSpark, that they could be a little bit slanted.

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And then you have Blurb, known for its quality photo books, which also supports hardcover self-publishing for a variety of genres, offering user-friendly book design and distribution options. So, those are some of the options you're going to look at.

Step-by-step guide to publishing your hardcover book on different platforms

First of all, you have the platform selection. You choose the platform, and then they take you through each of the steps. Usually, my clients will just ask me; they'll take a screenshot and say, "How do I do this?" And then I will just go straight through it with them in group coaching, and I literally will go click by click. 

I'll tell you exactly what you need to do to get through this entire process. Do I answer this way or do I answer this way on IngramSpark? Because there are a lot of questions you're going to get, and it can be very overwhelming if you don't have somebody to take you through that step.

Alright, prepare your manuscript. Make sure that it meets the specifications. But I'm telling you, if you did 6x9 and you're using Jutoh to do the whole thing, it's going to be fine on all of these platforms. Nobody's going to complain. 

And then publish and promote. It's not just about publishing the book but also promoting it, and learning about content marketing. That's one of the reasons I have the Content Marketing Made Easy Course, which goes through the steps of building four-pillar content marketing. We then use this to do our social media marketing. So, these are just a couple of things you're going to need to keep in mind. 

Understanding distribution options for hardcover books

There are lots of options. You have traditional retail partnerships where they take your book in bookstores and online marketplaces—of course, we want the book everywhere online—and then just do direct sales with people. But I'm telling you, when you're getting started, direct sales is a crazy difficult way to go. 

Marketing and Promoting Hardcover Books

Now, marketing and promoting hardcover books. Crafting a marketing plan to promote your hardcover book. 

Crafting a marketing plan to promote your hardcover book

The first thing is we have to do target audience identification. This is a huge mistake that most authors make. We blow off this whole audience identification; we don't even know who we're writing for. 

We just guess that people will like it if it's quality. That is a major mistake, my friends. And the keywords you're using matter a lot. That's one of the reasons I use and show my clients how to use KDSpy. If you have not picked up KDSpy, that is one of those tools you're going to want to have in your toolkit for self-publishing. 

It's probably the most important tool I have, maybe only second to another tool. Those two are pretty close to each other in terms of importance for getting books out, building like an assembly line of getting books onto the market.

Then we're going to have a multi-channel promotion, where we're coming across multiple channels, not just one social media, and all of these things. And then the final is engaging content, where we're just pulling people into the content that we have to show them that this is something you're going to consider when you're getting and doing your book.

Leveraging book launches and promotional events for maximum impact

Leveraging book launches and promotional events for maximum impact. You can create pre-launch buzz as you're coming out with the book, but I'm telling you if it's your first book, it's probably not going to matter that much.

Then you have your launch day strategy. This mostly matters once you have an email list because then you can wield that email list to bring a lot more sales. And then your post-launch sustainment—what do you do after you've got the launch done? Then you're following up with people to make sure that the buzz continues to go, and you don't want it to just die out. 

Utilizing online and offline marketing channels effectively

Now, utilizing online and offline marketing channels effectively. On the online marketing side, we're going to be doing social media, blogging, maybe YouTube, maybe a podcast—you're going to all of these emails.

Then you have the offline things: you're attending book fairs, you're looking at local bookstore book signings, and collaborating with local media to get your book out. And then just integration and consistency to ensure that everything you're doing is consistent with your brand. 

Integrating online and offline options using QR codes and other tricks like that. You want to measure the effectiveness to figure out where exactly using your money is going to give you the biggest return on investment. 

Engaging with Your Audience

So, engaging with your audience? The first thing is building a strong author platform for hardcover book engagement. 

Building a strong author platform for hardcover book engagement

That means a lot of people are going to be on your email list. As we're building it out, your target readers, you want to be able to contact them directly; email is the way to go on this one. Using email marketing is a fantastic one, which I teach my clients all the time in the Group Coaching or the 1-On-1 Program.

Interacting with readers through book signings and events

So, then, author branding. How are you building a brand around all of this? Okay, then you have to interact with readers through book signings and events, and that's like this in-person thing where it's a personal connection with your readers and your fans, building a fan loyalty base.

So you're building this up, and you're getting feedback from them to get the insight that you need to know what you should do in your next book.

Utilizing social media and online communities to connect with your audience

Now, utilizing social media and online communities to connect with your audience. That means figuring out where your audience already is. Like if you haven't already, we talked about the fact that it's so important to make sure you know exactly who your audience is.

Then, coming out with exclusive content and having online groups and forums that give you the ability to reach out to those people, right? 

Managing Sales and Distribution

There are just so many things to keep in mind here, right? Monitoring sales and performance and tracking book distribution.

Monitoring sales performance and tracking book distribution

So we're going to be looking at the sales reports so we know exactly what's selling. Distribution audits—is it getting through all of these distribution channels? Sometimes they flip the switch and don't tell you. 

So you need to make sure the book is still on sale and all these different things. And then inventory management, making sure that you have proper inventory in place so that if people order the books, it doesn't say "sold out." You need to make sure you have that.

Dealing with inventory management and fulfillment logistics

Now, dealing with inventory management, fulfillment logistics, and inventory tracking. This is assuming you're going to do it yourself and your fulfillment partners. I prefer just using Amazon and these people to do print on demand. Skip this whole part and shipping efficiency; that's up to them to take care of. You don't want to be messing with this stuff.

Exploring options for international distribution and selling rights

Now, exploring options for international distribution and selling rights. You have the first one, which is rights licensing; you can license the rights to this thing out for some time or for whatever the contract says to make money. And you have your global retail partners; these companies all over the planet are looking to sell your books.

And cultural considerations, just making sure we're looking at the nuances of different cultures so that we don't think we can just throw this book in any market and it's going to sell. We don't know what's going to happen, so we have to do that.

Obtaining Reviews and Feedback

This review part is usually the most difficult aspect, etc., of books. It's the most difficult to get reviews. And so, you're going to have strategies to encourage book reviews for your hardcover book. 

Strategies to encourage book reviews for your hardcover book

Having early review copies where you get them early so they would leave a review, engaging with the readers, and review request campaigns. There are a lot of these available ones that you can do. But it is something you're going to need to consider because you're not going to organically get positive reviews; it just doesn't happen. 

Handling feedback and using it to improve future editions

You have to handle feedback and use it to improve future things. You're going to read feedback assessments that people are coming in; it's an iterative improvement process, meaning you're going to get better as time goes on.

But don't get discouraged, and then just reader engagement, seeing what's going on, asking the readers, "Are you happy with this? Did you enjoy the book? Was it helpful?" These are the sorts of questions that I find very, very helpful when getting started with your books to make sure they're of as high quality as possible.

Engaging with book bloggers and reviewers for more exposure

That's, again, you know, research and outreach play a huge role. Advanced review copies are willing to give out in exchange for an honest review of our book and mutual promotion promoting other people's books, and they promote your book to their list. But notice, firstly, you have to have an email list to even do this. 

Hardcover Book as a Premium Product

It's like a high-end product positioning your hardcover book as a premium offering. 

Positioning your hardcover book as a premium offering

It's a quality production, there are limited editions and strategic pricing to make sure that you're maximizing what's coming from your book. 

Targeting specific niches and audiences for hardcover sales

We're not targeting everybody; there's going to be niche research to find out exactly who these people are interested in this type of book. And you're going to have audience segmentation where you're dividing this audience up into specific groups. Where some are interested in different things and personalized messaging, regardless of the different people who are going to be coming in. 

We're not just sending it to the same people. The people who want a hardcover book are different from the people who want the ebook version of your book. It's a very important point. 

The role of hardcover books in building brand authority and credibility

The first thing is the perceived value. Hardcover books are always perceived to have more value, and you have professionalism. It comes off as looking a lot more professional and just a physical presence. 

Hardcover books are tangible representations of your expertise, allowing you to establish a physical presence in bookstores and libraries, and solidifying your brand's authority over time. So, that's something a hardcover book can do. 

Considerations for Limited Editions and Special Releases

Now, considerations for limited editions and special releases. You're going to want to be exploring opportunities for limited edition hardcover releases. 

Exploring opportunities for limited edition hardcover releases

This is fantastic because it can have unique features, scarcity, and a fear of missing out, even collector's appeal. These are all of the things you can get from playing this little game of special editions. 

Creating collector's editions and special packages

Then, you have to create collector editions and special packages that involve premium materials or exclusive content, or comprehensive packages where you get all sorts of goodies if you buy the hardcover book.

So, this is one of the games you can play to try to maximize the sales of hardcover books, even though I told you already, that hardcover books are really about selling paperbacks.

Using scarcity and exclusivity to drive sales and demand

What does that mean? We're going to have limited-time offers. Look, you've got to do it right now, limited edition. So, it's like a scarcity of the amount and then exclusive access. This mostly works once you've already built up an author's platform and have an email list. It doesn't just magically happen for the most part for most people.

Case Studies and Success Stories

You have case studies and success stories highlighting successful self-published hardcover books and their authors. 

Highlighting successful self-published hardcover books and their authors

There's a couple, there are lots of success stories where people can do it. And then you have reader testimonies of these and other spotlights. There are all sorts of things that we can find, usually though, it's after you've already got your other author's platform. That's when this stuff comes into play. 

Learning from real-life examples of effective hardcover book campaigns

We're watching to see what works; we're going to go through case studies and see what exactly it is that gets these things to sell, and then author interviews and then going on the industry trend. So, we know exactly what the case is, okay? So that's just another one of those things. 


Hardcover books are something you're going to want to consider if you're interested in self-publishing. There's no reason not to do it; it gives you that price anchoring, it gives you all sorts of ability for people who only buy hardcover books to see it, gives you the professional seeing lots of different formats available. 

So, as you can see, there's a whole bunch of reasons why you should consider doing hardcover books. Also, if you want to discuss this in more detail, you can just check out and book a $7 Power Session with me, and we can talk through this exact issue as we look exactly at this particular issue in a short power session. Hope that makes sense, and check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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