Love Your Book? Choose A Great Cover

“Writing a novel… Now THAT’s hard,” my friend Phil said to me recently.

Phil is a neurologist. He’s brilliant enough to understand the inner-workings of the brain and that carving a creative path isn’t easy. To those of us who adore the process, however, it’s worth every brain cell and glucose molecule required.

Brains = Beauty

As many of you know, LOVE has been a theme in my life lately. Deciding to self-publish and related happenings have left me punch-drunk exhilarated. Thanks to Steena Holmes, indie author and graphic/book artist extraordinnaire, my latest heart swell derived from developing my cover—one of the most valuable ways we authors have of showing our work some love.

Having complete control over book covers is a huge benefit of self-publishing. It’s also one of the most important factors separating successful indie-authors and those whose books scarcely see the light of day.

The biggest giveaway that one is dealing with a self-published book is a poorly designed cover, says thriller author and executive editor of CNET David Carnoy, which is too often the case. Traditionally published books with ineffective covers also do poorly. Whether we like it or not, it’s human nature to judge books by their covers.

“Studies show that you have 12 seconds—in a bookstore—to turn a browser into a buyer… Covers are the way that we attract buyers.” — Midwest Book Review

Imagine how much more significant book covers are online, where we can view ten, twenty or more at once.

Choices, choices…

Stories we put our hearts, minds, souls and sweat into should appear as valuable as they are. Because my graphic “art” skills are limited to making 🙂 faces, coloring text and cropping photos, I knew that my cover decision would require serious research and expert insight. Here’s a handful of tips I learned in the process.

7 Tips for Choosing a Great Cover

1. Sit in your story. Close your eyes and think of your book without judgment. If you’re like me, an image (or images) and mood will surface. I carried this habit over from acting to writing, and most recently to choosing my cover.

2. Browse many covers. Go to Google images, Amazon or Barnes and Noble and peruse covers in your genre. Which ones stand out? Turn you off? Which would you buy? It can be tough to convey all we desire to a designer. Having an example can help us formulate our vision and relay it to others.

3. Hire someone awesome! If you’re artistically inclined, you may not want or need help. Otherwise, a fantastic, experienced designer can help ensure cover-creating success. If my book were a Christmas tree, Steena Holmes added lights and a star.

4. Make sure it looks fabulous small. With readers buying continually more books via iPads, smart phones and e-readers, it only makes sense that our covers look sharp as thumbnails.

5. Avoid clutter. Using one main image, not cluttering up the background and using readable, pleasing-to-the-eye font can help accomplish number four. And let’s face it. Clutter is generally unappealing. (Yeah, that funky bed I suggested Steena add? Not so much.)

6. Seek input from qualified others. I asked trusted friends and professionals who are familiar with my novel for their thoughts on my cover along the way. Sharing our covers with the masses too soon could confuse, frustrate or lead us astray. Agents, publishers, artists and experienced authors make valuable choices.

7. Go with your gut. While others’ opinions can help tremendously, choosing a cover that pleases others but doesn’t sit well with us isn’t wise. As with all aspects of writing, I believe that our instincts know best. Like deciding on Mr./Mrs. Right, you “just know.”

When I saw this rendition, the little voice at the back of my head yelped, YES! I’m delighted with it, and hope my readers will be too.

IN HER SHADOW will pre-release in December and officially release in January. I can’t WAIT to share the fun with you all. 🙂

Steena has a brand spankin’ new book, Dear Jack… A Finding Emma Novella, out TODAY! I’m eager to read the heart-wrenching, hope-filled story, told through love letters. I hope you’ll check it out, too.

What book covers resonate with you? Any design tips to add? Experiences to share? I love hearing from you. ♥