Thursday, February 16, 2012

Judging a Book by its Cover - Part 2 of Amy's Top 5 #pubtips

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover. But if we all didn't do it the publishing industry wouldn't spend katrillions of dollars on photo shoots and graphic artists now would they?

Ah, but you and I, we're not publishing moguls with ginormous budgets to put our books out. Let's look at how to get yourself a great cover for your self pubbed book.

In my post A Romance-a-holic's Top 5 reasons Download a Book (click to read) I outline how I choose what books to download. The book's cover is the number one choice maker for me. 
Some may argue that e-books don't even have a cover.  Why is this so important? Why do I (that's you the author asking me these questions) need a cover at all? 
Because they attract me (and other readers) to your book. 
Think about when you're browsing in a brick and mortar bookstore or the library. What a dull boring, black & white block letter world it would be without all those lovely book covers to peruse. 
Yes, of course I walk up to and grab books with shiny eye-catching covers.  
Wanna know a (not so secret) secret?
I do the same thing when browsing the internet for books too. 

Draw me in, then hit me with your great blurb, your credentials, your well plotted, emotionally deep book.  If you don't catch my attention I'll never get to see the rest of your hard work.

Here are my tips for getting a great book cover that will grab readers and sell books.

For the love of libraries, pay someone to design your cover.

There are lots of inexpensive resources out there.  A cover doesn't have to cost you a mint. They can be as inexpensive as $30. Now, I'm piss poor, but I'm pretty sure I could beg, borrow and steal from my friends and family to come up with three Alexander Hamilton's to buy a professionally done book cover.
All right, so you really can't come up with the money, huh?  I'll just bet you know someone that knows someone who's a graphic designer just begging to show off some stuff. Tell them you'll plug them on your website, give 'em credit in your blurb, blog about the amazing cover they made you, tell all your other writer friends.  They'll get paid in the end (even if it's only in good Karma).
Don't know where to start?
Here are a few places to get your feet wet.

Illlustrated RomanceAuthor Jenn LeBlanc (of illustrated romance The Rake and The Recluse fame) has, like most of us writers, a day job. She is goddess of capturing the souls of muses. (Read: a photographer)
She knows romance writers are always looking for hot pictures. For their covers of course. Her lightbox website has galleries of Romance Novel Stock Images for your viewing pleasure to purchase for your novel covers.

Author Viola Estrella turned to cover art creating when she got the rights back to some of her own works. Since then, she's finessed Adobe to within inches of it's pretty picture life. She's come up with some freaking brilliant covers for authors like Christina Ow, Hillary Seidl and Helen Hardt. Her Book Cover Art page will blow your mind (but not your pocketbook)

Both of these resources are also Romance authors. Who better to make you an awesome novel cover than an author?

Still making your own cover?
1. Use professional stock images. There are plenty out there for free. Just google it.
Don't use a painting or a picture your kid drew. Yes, we know you love him, and he's the most talented six-year old artist on the planet, but just frame his crayon drawing of zombie love and hang it in the hallway, not on Amazon. (Same goes for the picture you painted. Unless you're stuff is on display at the MOMA, then by all means ask your graphic designer to use your famous, worth a million dollars picture)
Also, avoid the computer gen people pics that Ellora's Cave is well known for. We live in the real world, not a primative hollodeck. 
I personally prefer pictures of people on Romance covers. There are people in your book right? I suggest avoiding sunsets, trees, teddy bears, and goats-eating-cheese pictures on your cover (and I've seen all of those on poorly done romance novel covers) and go for sexy couples instead.

2. Use a font I can read.
You don't see Nora Roberts using Blackadder ITC, Curlz MT, or Imprint MT Shadow
In fact, don't shadow it at all, only your tweenager thinks that still looks cool. Avoid neon too, it's hard to read. Want more info on what kind of typography you should use? Read this --> Typography in Graphic Design

3. Fit your genre.
I can't tell you've written the newest, greatest Zombie Love book if you've got a picture of a flower on your cover. Check out some covers of other authors in your genre and fit into that.  I'm not saying you have to be boring. Have a unique cover, but make sure it fits your story and I can tell from a glance if it's Regency, Paranormal, Contemporary or Space Cowboys. 

A final tip: Remember to put the title and your name on the cover. I can't tell you how many freebies I've seen that took the time and spent the money on buying a hot and sexy photo but didn't put anything on it. I'm totally not kidding.

I'm keeping on with Amazon books that don't have any reviews yet. There were nine new ones today. 
One had a picture of a glowing statue.
Two had pictures of women who looked constipated.
Another had a painting I'm sure I saw hanging over at my niece's junior high.
There was one with a picture of a sword and a castle, but the font gave me wrinkles trying to read it.
The biggest disaster of the day looked like someone took their college notebook with a mountain stream on it, laid on it's side and snapped a photo.

Let's look at some covers I thought were eye-catching (and I actually downloaded)

White Hot Desire: The Hunter and the Hunted

Here's the winner.
The Hunter & the Hunted by Aubrey White.
 I can tell by looking this is a YA Paranormal. The colors blend together beautifully, and the font, while matching is still readable. I already downloaded it. Great job Aubrey (or Aubrey's graphic artist)

...In All the Wrong Places (A short and funny romance)

Runner up: 
...In All the Wrong Places by L.A. DeVaul.
I said no neon font, but feel free to use a big ole block of neon. This one reaches right out, snags you by the shirt and screams at you to look at it. It's unique and I want it. 
I don't see the author's name on here anywhere though, do you?

Hallow House - Part Two

So close:
Hallow House - Part 2 by Jane Toombs.
Great picture, good name and title placement. The curlycue font on her first name and the part 2 bit get lost. I'm not totally sure if this is Historical or Paranormal or both. I do wish their was a guy on here with this pretty lady. I'll still probably download it, but first I'll have to read the blurb and I sure wish there were some reviews.

So, indie author friend o' mine. What are you gonna do about your book's cover?  (Buy it, right?)

Tomorrow we'll look at blurbs.  The good, the bad and the ugly. But mostly the good.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Amy!! By the way, I'm planning on re-releasing Bewitching You and designing a new cover for it. ;-) So that one will be ancient history soon.

    1. Hey Vi, you let me know when the awesome new cover is out and I'll replace the pic here. Can't wait to see it (and read the re-release!)

    2. Will do. Thanks for the support, Amy!

  2. The winning cover has a fantastic image :D