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Friday, July 26, 2013

Stephanie Erickson – Why Book Covers Are So Important

Why Book Covers are so Important

by Stephanie Erickson

As a graphic designer, this issue strikes a cord with me.  I’ve spent years learning how your eye tracks across the page, what is visually appealing, and how to attract millions with something as simple as an apple with a chunk taken out of it.

With writing, you might think your work is done once you’ve written something brilliant.  You’re going to be the next Steven King meets F. Scott Fitzgerald right?  Obviously you’re that perfect balance of appeal to the masses meets substance, and people should read it just based on that.  No need to flower it up with distracting, flashy designs and covers right?  Wrong.

Take your reader on a date

Think about it like this:  Your cover is your first impression, your first date with your potential reader.  If you want this person to spend the rest of their life with you (as loyal readers do), do you show up smelling like you haven’t showered in a week, covered in dust and dirt, and wearing last week’s dirty clothes?  No, you’ll dress up, put on your best cologne, and maybe even use one of those teeth whitening systems.  The same applies to your book.

I’ve found with the Indie publishing industry, book covers tend to be an after thought.  Indie authors have already spent their money on editors, so there’s not much left to hire a designer for the cover.  They figure they can do it themselves in Microsoft Paint and call it a day.  Nine times out of ten, they’re killing their book before it ever hits Amazon.

It’s important to invest in that first date.  Spend the money on the tooth whitening system, so your reader isn’t disgusted by you.  Get a new dress to really get them salivating over you.  In the end, it’ll pay dividends.

It’s very shiny, very sparkly

As a general rule, people are visual.  The problem is, people are also unique.  What one person finds attractive, someone else may be repulsed by.  The key is finding a balance, and when it comes to your book, it can mean the difference between 50 sales and 50,000 sales.

As a professional designer, I’m always going to recommend hiring someone to do your cover.  However, if you insist on doing your own, here are a few tips:

  1. Look at other books in your genre that made the bestseller list.  Not the Amazon>Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks> Literature & Fiction>Genre Fiction>Romance>Paranormal list.  The actual New York Times bestseller list.  You know, the ones with George R. R. Martin, Barbra Kingsolver, James Patterson and the like.  No, you probably won’t go shoulder to shoulder with them from your first book, but there’s a reason why they’re so successful.  What attracts you to their books?  Is it the color scheme?  The art? The font?  Try to mimic that.
  2. Pay for actual art.  Nothing turns a reader off faster than a low resolution image you shanghai’d off the internet.  I know, the point of doing it yourself was so you didn’t have to spend money, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot here.  Additionally, paying for art helps protect you from all those pesky internet theft rules.
  3. Capture your title.  Above all, create a captivating image that encapsulates what your story is about.  The Blackout is about a catastrophic solar flare.  So naturally, the cover has a dramatic solar flare striking the title on it. Is your book a romance?  Typically those have pictures of couples, but don’t feel constrained either.  You could use a foggy picture of rolling hills (think Wuthering Heights).  The point is to be relevant to your content, but still stand out in an appealing way.  Sound complicated?  It is.  That’s why there are people who make careers of it.
  4. Above all, come up with a design that would make you want to read the book if you hadn’t written it.  Think your cover is boring and amateur?  You better believe your potential readers will too.

    Buy Now @ Amazon

    Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

    Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

    More details about the author

    Connect with Stephanie Erickson on Facebook & Twitter

    Website http://stephanieerickson.weebly.com/

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