Book Covers – The soul of your novel

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Book covers. They’ll make or break your book. Your cover is absolutely the most important part of the book you’re selling. After all, who are we? We’re not Steven King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, or Anne McCaffrey. These authors are world renown. Someone once said that if Steven King put his name on a phone book, it would become a best seller. But us? If we’re lucky, we have a small fanship. Mostly, we’re relying on word of mouth, or hope that someone will randomly buy our book, not knowing who we are. Your book cover can make that happen. The worst book cover can make a great novel sit on the shelves. A great book cover can sell the worst book ever written.

The worst cover mistakes I’ve seen– people trying to draw it on their own. Even if you’re an artist, don’t. Book covers are a specialized artform and most of us can’t do it. Being a CGI artist, I designed the cover for my first novel myself. I thought it was a pretty good job. All of my artist friends let me know I was wrong. They thought it wa crap. My second novel, I hired a cover artist and people raved about it. Professional book covers can cost you anything from $5 to hundreds of dollars. Here’s a few tips to consider when looking for a book cover:

  • Don’t use your own artwork for your book cover. I know, I said that above, but it bears repeating.
  • You really can find $5 covers on sites such as Etsy. Most of them suck. However, you can find some real gems.
  • If you purchase a book cover, ensure that the artist will decommission the cover once you buy it. This means they won’t sell it to anyone else. The last thing you want to do is confuse readers with a cover that’s on 20 other books.
  • Photoshopped book covers, which is what many people sell, tend to look horrible. This is especially true if they are using real photos of people.
  • Ensure your book cover will apply nicely to the dimensions required by the size of your book and to Amazon KDP’s (or whomever you’re publishing to) specifications. You can find Amazon KDP’s size templates HERE.
  • Depending on the media you’re publishing, you’ll need multiple versions of your cover. I always have three; one for KDP, one for paperback, and one for Audible. The paperback version will require the front cover, spine, and back cover.

Here are some seriously shitty book covers:

Hopefully, these guys don’t read my blog. I really can’t afford a lawsuit for libel right now, although I think I could make a convincing argument to the court that these are indeed shitty covers.

Here’s the book cover I purchased. It cost me $90 and the artist, Danielle Fine decommissioned the cover once I’d paid for it. She also took suggestions from me to make it more in line with what I wanted. The original illustration had this demon grimacing. Being a comedy, I asked if she could add a bit of humor to it. She changed the grimace to a smile and that one change gave me exactly what I was looking for. A good cover artist will work with you. Thanks Danielle!

Another great book cover artist who is trustworthy is Alex Von Ness at Nessgraphica. And for you budding cover artists, he runs a monthly cover contest. Each month, the winner earns the right to display this prestigious award on their website and all entrees receive feedback on their cover designs by Alexander himself! The reason I mention Danielle and Alexander is that it’s hard to find a good cover artist and I highly recommend these two.

Hiring a good cover artist is the best decision you can make for your book. But it’s not always the option we can afford. What if you simply don’t have the money to purchase a book cover? Some would say if you don’t have the money to publish, then don’t publish. I say that’s crazy talk. I also say there’s another option. Design your own cover using royalty-free licenses. There are plenty of image sites out there. Find the image that works for you, then build a cover with GIMP (open source) or Photoshop (if you got the big bucks). This is not going to work for everyone. Find an acceptable image that fits your book. Don’t force it. Even if you’re using someone else’s images, you still need to create a pleasing design. We’re not all capable of this. So get lots of opinions on your neewly designed cover. I did this with one of my novels, a detective novel with demons and angels. I liked the final results and many, many people gave me the thumbs up. I purchased this image off of Pixabay. They have over 2 million free and royalty-free images available for a monthly fee. For new users, they offer 10 free images.

So, I hope I’ve made my very wordy point. Don’t cheat yourself, or your book. Otherwise, I might be posting your shitty cover. Please don’t sue me.

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