Readers Judge Books By Their Cover!
No matter the path you've chosen to pursue in publishing your manuscript, you'll need a GREAT Cover. Why? Because people do judge books by their cover. If your cover is bland, or looks like it was made by an amateur most won't even give your book a second thought. More importantly they may never look at your work again...
It seems harsh but it is the reality we face...
With nearly a million books published each year in the United States alone, your cover is the first access point for your potential readers. We went over the Pitch before and it is the core of your marketing strategy, but the book cover will be seen first, and as such it will be the first point of judgement by your potential reader. Eyes will automatically be drawn to the cover whether the reader is seeing it in a search, an ad, or a social media post. If you lose the reader because of a poorly designed cover, it won't matter how good your Pitch is, and even worse how good your story itself is.
Get ready to tear your hair out, especially if you decide to design it yourself!
There are three main roads you can take when you are crafting your book cover.
Hiring a professional cover design artist
This is the path most should take. The overwhelming majority of authors are wordsmiths, not graphic designers. We take care herding the proper words into the proper order to convey an image in the readers mind. The first rule of book covers is that you want your cover to convey an even better quality than the manuscript inside. The most sure-fire way to ensure that is to hire someone to create your cover.
This can be costly...
There are thousands of artists who make their living designing covers and they are not hard to find, but they will cost you. I have encountered prices ranging from $25-$1000 depending on the skill level of the artist, the time frame to produce the cover, and the content requested by the author. At first it may be overwhelming, there are too many artists, the cost is too high, the time frame may take too long. The trick is to not panic. NO matter what the cover needs to have the proper attention if you are ever going to entice readers.
Rule #1 Go with the Artist Who's Work You Fall In Love With
If you have decided to go the route of hiring a professional, it is important to get the artist you want and damn the cost. Figure a way to pay the artist what they are worth, because it will pay dividends to have the artwork that draws in readers. Recent surveys have pointed to an 18% increase in royalties for authors who use a professionally designed covers. Do your research, ask around, and get recommendations from authors whose covers you love. Once you have found the artist you like, go for it. While it is best to hire a cover design artist who primarily works with cover design, you can hire someone whose art better fits your content. The reason is that eBook publishers have specific requirements for cover size, file type, and dimensions, which a traditional artist, unfamiliar with these specifications may struggle with. It is however not a dead end to go with the artist your book needs.
I've tracked down a few of the best Cover Artists I have Seen, Just For You!
Christian's covers are ridiculously eye-catching, especially for the price tag of $175 for an eBook and $200 for Print Book. I highly recommend you take a gander.
For eye-popping graphics head over toJen Munswami's Instagram and take a peek at her digital artistry. Jen's incredible work can be fetched from $150-$1000+. Just take a look those prices are worth it!
These are some of the best Fiction Cover Designers I have found.
Ultimately it is up to you which artist you decide to hire. For Fiction Writers I highly suggest this route. However, if you are Non-Fiction writer, or you are a DIY'er like me...
D.I.Y. Covers can work!
If you are a big time do it yourself'er like me, you may want to take the hard road. Designing your own cover can be an incredibly rewarding experience if you have the chops to take it on. It is considered the road less traveled for more than one reason. Often authors lack the technical wherewithal, or the time, or the digital tools to complete this. Another reason to D.I.Y. is to save on cost, but this is only effective if you have the time to do it. I personally have a proficient level of experience in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Graphic Design software and thus I was able to forge the cover for my debut novel with a few simple free tools.
And I did it all on a Chromebook, without Photoshop!
There are a wealth of tools available if you only know where to look for them. These tools can make designing a cover a super simple task. It all depends on your level of experience and whether or not you want to invest writing time in learning to design a book cover. I like to know the ins and outs of the entire process, I am a systems guy, so when I decided to self-publish,Nemeton, I made the conscious decision to see if I could do every aspect of the release. Some of these tasks, like designing the cover were uber rewarding, however some I wish I had dolled out to a more experience professional, example copy and line edits....
So how did I do it?
I am big on Chromebooks. I use Google Docs as my primary writing tool, and thus I am limited on what kind of software I can use on my laptop. So Adobe Photoshop was out of my wheelhouse. Luckily for me and others who don't want to make the investment in an Adobe CS Suite there are a number of free options available.
Pixabay allowed me to grab high quality stock photos to start the process out. If you are going the route of D.I.Y. at lowest cost, I recommend this website. I found around twenty different stock photos at first, to make sure I had enough material to morph into the cover that I wanted. All of the images on Pixabay can be used without worry of copyright infringement, which is a huge bonus. This eliminates the need to work out royalties with an artist. While this is an enchanting thing I do not recommend it for everyone. I still believe it is better to invest in an artist for a long term product, for the majority of authors.
This impressive web-based clone of Adobe Photoshop is a killer tool for anyone who likes to edit images. Many of the tools Photoshop gurus are familiar with are available, though they lack the precision available if you go with Adobe. You can layer, cut, past, copy, filter, erase, just about anything you'd need to do to craft a startlingly beautiful image. And its fun to boot! If you are graphically savvy this is a great tool to have in your tool kit.
OK HOLD ON! I DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME!
Christopher Lee is the indie author of Nemeton, an avid history buff, mythologist, bardic poet, and keeper of the old ways.