Investing in an eye-catching book cover

This post is the fortieth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I discussed two components of your book cover – the title and your author name (and whether a pen name would be beneficial.) Today, I want to cover the designing of your book cover.

The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the image. The cover is the first thing your readers see and is where they decide if your book is worth their time to even read the book description.

Things you want in a cover:

  • Simple, easy to understand
  • Having an impact or something that grabs the reader’s attention
  • If it is for an e-book, make sure it looks good at thumbnail size.

Things to avoid:

  • Too many things on the cover/clutter
  • Bad layout where title and author names are in bad location or size. (If you are famous, your name could be bigger than the title but typically you want the title to stand out more than your name.)

Now you may already have an idea about what you want on your cover, but if not, you may want to visit a book store or browse Amazon to see what style of cover grabs your attention.

If you have the resources and the know-how, there is nothing wrong with creating your own cover if it looks professional and is eye-catching. But most authors are better off if they let an expect design their cover. There are a variety of different designers out there offering a wide variety of cover designs.

To find a list of cover designers, check out this list on Smashwords. From there, you can look at each designer’s portfolio and pricing. (Some of the more popular ones have really long wait lists for covers!) The process will go easier if you have an idea of what you want on your cover,  but if you have no clue, most designers will be able to show you a few options based on your story synopsis or sample chapters.

Unless you are going to pay someone to draw your cover, most designers are going to be working with graphics and stock photos. If you want an idea of what is out there, check out stock photo sites such as istockphotodreamstime and bigstockphoto.

There are even designers that have pre-made covers that they just drop in your title and name. I am not saying these are bad if you just happen to find something that fits your book perfectly but in general, I would rather have something designed specifically for my book.

Take some time to look at covers of popular books and find out what you like. Think about what you think will entice a reader to pick up or click on your book. And then take the time to create a profession design or have someone do it for you. The time and effort that you devote to designing your cover will definitely pay off in the end.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

6 book promoting tips

A lot of times as authors promote their book through trial and error they find things not to do. Maybe a blog tour doesn’t work out the way they planned or a holiday sale doesn’t bring in the sales they hoped for.

Learning from our mistakes lets us know what we shouldn’t do but doesn’t necessarily say what we SHOULD do. And the problem is what works for one author, may not work for another.

Sometimes it is the small things that you do as an author that have the biggest impact. Here are six book-promoting tips that should help all authors.

1.) Invest in a good cover – Yes, yes. We have all heard this before. But it bears repeating again. A good cover is one that is uncluttered and stands out when at thumbnail size. You have mere seconds to grab a reader’s attention.

Readers will not see this cover first.

HeirAlexandria_ebookcover

What they will see is this cover as a small thumbnail first.

thumbnail

2.) Include your other books and upcoming releases in the back matter – If readers have finished your book, most likely they enjoyed it. So now is the time to tell them about your other books. List series in order and let them know about upcoming releases. But don’t just tell them – provide them with links! And don’t forget to ask your readers to write a review.

3.) If writing a series, consider pricing your first book for 99 cents or free – I have tried many series because the first book was discounted. And you can bet that if I liked that one, I will be willing to purchase the other books in the series at a slightly higher price. And once they start reading your books they may buy other books not in the series.

4.) Include you Buy Link high on your page – When running a promotion, request that the buy link be at the top of the page near the book cover and not at the bottom of the page. You want it easy for readers to buy your books. I have to admit that the way I lay out my Friday Featured Author page, the buy link is always at the very bottom. But people shouldn’t have to scroll through the whole page to find it. So I guess from now on I will put it in BOTH locations so readers never have to hunt to find it.

5.) Promotion of a new release can never start too early – Some authors wait to release date or right before release day to give out details on their books. They may hold off so they don’t spoil anything, or perhaps they want to have something to announce on that day. But your promotion of your book should happen months before. You want to tease readers. You want the clamoring for the book to come out. You can do announcements on title choices or cover reveals. And of course, run excerpts of your book on your blog in advance of its release.

6.) Work to market directly to your readers or potential readers – Instead of hoping someone stumbles onto your blog, consider doing a newsletter to keep readers up to date on your work. And if you do a new release contest, be sure to email the losers too. Not only can you tell them you appreciate them entering but the email can be a gentle reminder that your book is out and available for them to purchase. Anytime you can be proactive and reach out directly to your readers (rather than waiting for them to find you) is a good thing.

Promoting yourself as an author really is just a matter of trying to find out what works for you. I hope these tips will help. If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them in the comment section. They just may help another author.

Investing in a professional-looking, eye-catching book cover

Two weeks ago I revisited one of my first posts about writing (Freezing time) or probably more aptly about finding the time to be a writer. Well, today,  I want to revisit one of my first posts on publishing – the all-important book cover.

SummonedFINALThe cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book (or in the case of e-books click on the image).

The cover is the first thing your readers see and is where they decide if your book is worth their time to even read the book description.

The SearchIf you have the know-how, there is nothing wrong with designing your own book cover as long as it looks professional and eye catching. I actually have the skills to do my own cover (and did the cover for The Search) but for my other four fantasy novels, I have left the cover design up to someone with a little more experience.

You may go in knowing what you want or you may want to give the cover designers a few chapters to get an idea of your style and story. One way to get an idea of what you like, visit Amazon and see what grabs your attention.

Now unless you are willing to pay someone to draw you a cover, most designers are using stock photos and graphics.

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverThe problem with writing fantasy is that many of the models in those stock photos are wearing modern clothing. Even the ones in “medieval” garb are not wearing what those in my story wear. It makes selecting artwork hard. If you want an idea of what is out there, check out at stock photo sites such as istockphotodreamstime and bigstockphoto.

There are several websites that offer cheap book covers that they have pre-made and just drop in your title and name. I am not saying these are bad if you just happen to find something that fits your book perfectly but in general, I would rather have something designed for my book that won’t be seen elsewhere.

To find a list of cover designers, check out this list on Smashwords.

Things you want in a cover:

  • Simple, easy to understand
  • Having an impact or something that grabs the reader’s attention
  • If it is for an e-book, make sure it looks good at thumbnail size.

Things to avoid:

  • Too many things on the cover/clutter
  • Bad layout where title and author names are in bad location or size. (If you are famous, your name could be bigger than the title but typically you want the title to stand out more than your name.)

Just remember whether you use a “stock” cover, design one yourself or have an expert design your cover, the main goal of the cover is to generate interest and excitement. The time and effort that you devote to designing your cover will definitely pay off in the end.