When my parents told me never to judge a book by its cover, Amazon.com didn’t exist and neither did the internet for that matter. Now everything is judged by minute snippets of information and thumbnail pictures. So, in this day and age a book can and will be judged by its cover. With that in mind, you’d be foolish not to make sure your book is dressed as sharply on the outside, as it is carefully crafted and edited on the inside.
With the outrageous number of books and ebooks being published everyday on Amazon, and every other major online retailer it is becoming exceedingly difficult to separate ourselves from all of the competition.
Even if you have Shakespeare’s gift with words, or J.K. Rowling’s artistry that allowed her to cast a spell with the turn of a page, Stephenie Meyer’s ability to take someone fiction has traditionally cast as a villian and breathe humanity into him or Suzanne Collins’ take on how one ordinary girl can take on the injustices of the world, it is still beyond difficult to find an audience among the millions of offerings. Chances are if you can’t engage a reader with your cover, it will never matter how well you craft a story.
You’ve spent weeks, months, or perhaps even years carefully creating characters and spinning a compelling story that brings them to life and now you are left wondering how you can make your work stand out.
As I’ve said before, there are a number of things that you have to do in order to even have a remote chance at selling beyond your inner circle of supportive friends, family and co-workers. Editing is a really big step, as is formatting, but what is often overlooked is the cover itself.
It is your opportunity to not only introduce yourself and your work to a reader, but also to give your readers a sneak peek into what they might find between the pages. So now, you are faced with the various ways to grab their attention…perhaps with something that might tug at the heart strings, or a more subtle approach that carries a vague reference, or perhaps an ominous prophecy of what’s to come. (In order to avoid copyright issues, I’ve used samples of my own covers. If you have a cover of your own that you think might offer a unique portrait of your story, feel free to submit it via email.)
More often than not, your cover design will be more important than any little blurb or summary you provide as it is often the first thing people will see. If it doesn’t catch the readers eye, they may never even get to your summary or the dozens or more reviews that your readers have so kindly offered.
The cover is almost as important as the story, the editing and the formatting in the respect that IT IS the hand shake and introduction at the party…and you definitely don’t want your guests to walk away and forget your name before that party even starts!
So what do you do?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to a great cover design, but there are a number of great cover designers with enough experience to steer you in the right direction. And the clearer your vision for the story is, the easier it will be to translate that into your cover design. Does your book have some kind of specific imagery, or is there a picture that you envision for a scene in your book? These are some good places to start.
Some of the key things you want to make sure to address is a font that will stand out in smaller images and that your name or pen name is prominent on the cover as well. You’ll also want to consider your background color in relation to any images you choose and if it’s a series whether you will be able to have some continuity from one book to the next. And you’ll also want to consider the formats, is it only an ebook, or will it be offered in print as well? A good cover designer will help you decide what suits your particular book as well.
People ask all the time, can’t I just take a stock image and use that with my title and my name? Well, no one is going to stop you, but it also won’t stop anyone else from using that same image for their book.
Armed with this information, I thought I would share my cover designer’s website and a few twitter handles that might help you along the way. The right people are out there to help you create a unique and engaging cover, you just have to seek them out!
You can also follow him on twitter @muggai
Or you can tweet to @SelfPubBKCovers and they will send you a list of their favorite cover designers.
And of course there are sites like Elance.com where you can post your jobs and find someone that fits your project and budget.
I hope that this will help anyone looking to jump into the world of self publishing or indie publishing. And it may also help anyone seeking alternatives to the often expensive added services of many publishing houses.
As writers, we are both at an advantage for the number of options available to us, and at a disadvantage for the number of books that are now being published on a daily basis. So, take every opportunity you have to grab a potential readers attention and most of all enjoy the ride!
Have more questions??? Well feel free to post a comment, or find me on twitter @LoucksKE