I am not the only person to climb up on this soap box, and I probably won’t be the last. It is very important for new authors to understand this from the start. Other seasoned indie authors and publishing professionals stress this. This is another thing you must get right the first time or can’t skimp on your budget. It can’t look cheap. You cover matters. The adage about “judging a book by its cover” didn’t come about by happenstance. When I started out I had some intrinsic knowledge and insight on this concept for a couple reasons :
- Of all the books I’ve picked up to read I checked out the cover
- I had some artistry background, so I am visual by nature.
People in general are visual, most just don’t realize it.
If any author out there has begun as a reader (probably all should), they would all agree that the first thing they look at before they read a word inside is the cover. Some stress the front. Some the back. I would be safe to say the whole darn thing. However, the front cover is the first thing we see. It should be cool and it should be a window inside to what the book is about. I’ll repeat, it still has to be cool.
In addition to being cool it must look professional. It can’t look cheap either. This can be tricky for the novice DIYer. For most DIYers, they may hire someone to do their cover if nothing else. Some (not most or all) self publishing companies do good cover art.
Tip: If you are checking out a cover designer or a self publishing company, look for or ask for samples of their work. Some of them display their work on their site. If the self publishing company doesn’t do this on their site you can look around in their bookstore for samples. If you must do more legwork than that you may want to shop elsewhere. The cover is not the place to skimp out on your budget either. Do look for the best price for the best work. Here again you don’t have to pay top dollar for it (unless you want to) but you can’t expect Dollar Tree discount either. The range can be about $200-$1000. Over that you would be overpaying.
You can get a great cover within the range. Some authors can do their own covers themselves and do well at it. Others know their limitations. There is a lot involved to take note of and much to learn. You also must be able to learn how to use the software, and there are at least two or three different platforms. Some are more user friendly and others. For ebooks, you don’t really have to worry so much about the back cover since the reader can pick it up and flip it over like a print book, but you must have the copy on your retailer listing. The front really matters here. The cover must be clear in a thumbnail pic. You don’t want it to appear pixelated or blurry at any size either. It’s a great feeling when someone tells you that they like your cover. That’s one thing you did right!
Remember: In self publishing you have control of what your cover looks like, so it is your responsibility. Traditional publishers spend big bucks on covers, but they don’t always match what’s inside, and the author can’t control the outcome, but they take the fall if it sucks.
Having a basic idea of the design is immensely helpful, and working with someone who will make it come alive and up to standards is a fantastic start!