Sunday, September 1, 2013

Covers Count!

I just recently finished the cover for my soon-to-be-published novel and I'm pleased with the result. Now, before anyone gets all uppity about me creating my own cover, I will say that I am an artist who took six art courses during my time at the University, and I also have a degree in multimedia where I worked extensively in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects to hone my skills, so I am not just a hack here. Whether or not my cover sells me a bunch of books remains to be seen, but I feel that it is an attractive piece that will entice people to at least give my book a click to read the description.

Covers are the most important thing about a eBook. This is purely my opinion, but I think it's valid. When I go to Amazon, the first thing I see in the Kindle Store is a spread of twenty-five to fifty eBook covers. No descriptions. No long pages of text with a zillion quotes endorsing the book. Just plain, visual book covers. The advantage of digital publishing is that all books have their covers "face out" like they would be at the front of Books-A-Million. The tricky part is that this cover is my first encounter with all these books, and I'm a judgmental guy.

Anyone who says that you can't judge a book by its cover is crazy because that's exactly what we do as eBook shoppers on any of these sites - Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords. Does this cover look unique, interesting, and tasteful? If yes, I'll click on it to see what the description says. If not, I won't give it a second glance. I believe that the cover is the doorway between your book and the reader, and if it doesn't catch their attention, then you've lost a customer.

But, how do you ensure that your cover is the best that it can be? Well, if you aren't a graphic designer and don't know how to use Photoshop like a pro, then I would suggest hiring someone to make a cover for you. Luckily I can create my own, and I'm also a photographer, so getting digital elements isn't a chore for me. However, that doesn't mean that I took one of my pictures and slapped it into the correct dimensions and put any old font on it!

Designing a cover takes time and a lot of hard, hard work. On my cover alone I worked for eight hours overnight to get a rough draft - and the only elements that remain from that first pass are the background photo and my author font. I showed this cover to five or six different people, all in different age brackets, who gave me their opinions. Most loved the images, but the font I chose for the title was too hard to read.

Armed with this feedback, I went to creativemarket.com and purchased a font that I thought was unique and had enough flourish for the genre I'm aiming for and adjusted my title. I also purchased some Photoshop color presets that I used to get a warm color effect on all my image pieces. This gave the cover a feeling of completeness that is lacking in some of my other attempts.

With the revised cover completed, I loaded it into my Kindle Paperwhite and also my iPad Mini and showed it again to those same five or six people to get their reactions. It appears to be a success, and now I am ready to move forward with the rest of my book design.

It's a very tricky thing to create a cover for a book you've worked so hard on for a year or more. You want to make sure that it accurately portrays the type of book you wrote, but you also want to make sure that it is eye-catching for when it's on an Amazon page alongside fifty other book titles. Check out the Amazon Top 100 list to see what's there. I definitely did before I set out creating my own cover, and it helped me enormously in my pursuits. If you do end up making it yourself, you have complete control with little monetary loss other than your time. I preferred to do it myself and see what I could come up with. In the end, the cover is the first and most important thing that a customer will see. Since I've put so much effort into controlling my final manuscript, why wouldn't I put that much more effort into my cover design?