Google book covers and unbelievably, this is one topic on which almost EVERYONE agrees: book covers are important. They catch the eye of a potential reader. Unless you are famous already and people are buying your book because of your name and not because the cover caught their eye, people will want to see a pleasing cover that depicts what genre your book is and what it is about. Not only that, but it has to look good small. Thumbnails are what people see online, and if you make your print too small, readers could pass you by.
I think people can get caught up in designing the cover, and that necessarily isn’t a good thing. Some books are long and have many parts. Can you allude to every single scene in your book with the cover picture? No. But that doesn’t mean some haven’t tried. Unfortunately, a lot of readers will equate a bad cover with bad writing. It’s not fair, but I’ve been turned off by covers, and you probably have too. There’s a website dedicated to lousy book covers and you can find it here.
You don’t have to design the cover yourself. If you’re on Twitter all you need to do is tweet, “I need a cover,” and within half an hour I bet you would have a dozen choices in designers you could hire. You can go on Fiverr and find a graphic artist. You can look there for editing, formatting, marketing, or whatever else you think you need help with. (I’ve never used products or services on that site, so this is not a recommendation, only an option.) You could trade services with someone: they design your cover, you edit, or beta read their next novel. Maybe you have a technical school near you that offers a graphic design program. You could reach out to the instructors there and ask if a student would like to earn a little cash on the side. Maybe your neighbor has a high-schooler who knows a little something about Photoshop.
Whatever the case, you might have spent money on your ISBN numbers and maybe paid an editor, so you’re already in the hole with this novel and don’t want to pay out any more. I get that, and that was pretty much my situation by this point too. But I won’t lie, I was pretty proud I did my cover myself and while I could have benefited from being more patient, a mistake I won’t make again, it turned out okay. Granted, I wrote 1700 SPECIFICALLY to get my feet wet in the indie-publishing pool (thanks, Jewel!). It was not a project near and dear to my heart (sorry Ben and Lila), it was not a labor of love. I didn’t spend five years writing it. So if you handle your manuscript like it’s gold, you plan to market and advertise the hell out of it, and you want a fantastic cover, I would encourage you to get help, at least a little guidance, because I can only tell you what I can tell you, and it isn’t too much.
Anyway, I knew this blog post was coming, so I have been saving simple covers I like, but again, this is not an endorsement. I like the simplicity of them, and I looked for covers I knew I (and you) could replicate in Word.
This one pops up in my Twitter feed a lot and I love the simplicity of it. It’s a Romance, just looking at the cover tells you that. There aren’t a million things going on. The author made the back cover color match the front font. I think the whole thing works well, and it consists of only one picture, some text, and the author name. The COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL, Amazon added, as I took a screen shot of the book on Amazon’s site.
This one doesn’t give you any clue to what it’s about, only probably (hopefully) it takes place in the winter. But I do like how simple it is, and it’s an example that even if you’re working with just one picture, you can break it up with text boxes to make it look different. The back is the same picture, only faded, with the blurb typed over it.
She did it again here, which is a great idea if you are writing a series.
Sherry Lewis is a bigger name, but she still takes advantage of a single photo with some pretty font. I love the cover for A Thirty-Something Girl. I love the title, I love her name at the bottom, not centered. It’s elegant, simple, pretty. I didn’t snag the backs for these, but I hope you’re getting an idea of what you can do by yourself. You ARE NOT limited if you don’t have help. You can make a decent cover. You have options.
Take your time looking for a photo you want to use. Look through lots of sites (though please make sure the pic is available for commercial use, or pay the fee to buy it), or take your own photo. (I would recommend using a camera, not the one on your phone because you want a very clear picture, and CreateSpace will not print something pixilated, and you won’t want to either.)
I think that is is for now. I’ll make a fake cover for Running to Love in the next blog post.
Until next time!