By now I’m sure most of you know how important a book cover is for selling books. I’d say that the three most important things in getting someone to plunk down cold hard cash for one of your books are: 1) word of mouth, 2) your book cover, and 3) your blurb. However, you’re not going to get any word of mouth unless you first sell a few books, and to do that you’ll need to have a dynamite and unique cover … and a great blurb. But the cover has to come first.
I’ll stipulate that you’ll get people to your sales page on Amazon through marketing, social media, etcetera. But what’s the first thing they’re gonna see? That’s right, an image of your book. And what about the casual browser looking for a book in a genre they like? What are they gonna see as they scroll down the page? It’s not the title of the books and it’s not the number of reviews or the star average. It’s the cover image that draws in the eye.
Here’s a fun fact: Amazon has 32.8 million different book titles up for sale (1.2 in the kindle store). That’s a whole lotta competition.
I’m here today to advocate for having a unique book cover. And I’m talking from experience. Below are three images. The middle one is my first book. Now see what I saw years later as I was browsing through Amazon.
I’ve seen that fiery design used on two other books besides what is pictured. As to the silhouetted horsemen on Parker’s book: At least I can say mine came out a year before his. Although I’m sure he sold more books than I did.
Here’s my point: If even big publishing houses are using stock photos, what hope is there for the indie author to distinguish his or her book from the rest of the pack? The answer is, hire a graphic artist to build your cover from the ground up. Okay, okay. I can already hear you saying, “I can’t afford that!” We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about the process.
You want your cover to convey what’s inside the book and make people want to buy it. So, the first thing you have to do is come up with a concept and refine it. Know exactly what you want. The next step is to find images that will help your graphic artist get a sense of what you’re after. Book covers are obvious; spend a few hours scrolling through books on Amazon and find covers that will express what you want in a general way. They do not necessarily have to be in your genre. I also perused old movie posters from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s (they don’t do posters like that anymore!).
Once you’ve got something to show, you and your artist can get down to work. There will be a lot of back and forth until you get what you want. And if you have an artist that gets what you’re trying to say with your cover, he or she will augment what you’ve told them and will improve upon your original concept. For my last two books, I used the guy that runs Evolve VFX, and I’m very happy with his work. The best thing about him is his patience. I tend to be a little picky, so the back and forth went on way longer than it probably should have. But he kept his cool and put up with me. And in the end, I had exactly what I wanted. See below:
Now to the cost. Yes, a graphic artist will cost more than if you use some low-cost outfit, do it yourself, or use KDP’s Cover Creator (stock photos). I don’t know how long the average is for someone to write a book. I guess it depends if you have a day job, or family responsibilities, or other things that intrude upon your writing time. I have none of the above. My day job is writing and it still took me eighteen months to write Mahoney, my latest book. If I had put away $5.00 a week, I would have had more than enough to come up with one first-class cover. I suspect that you guys write a little faster than I do, so make it seven or ten bucks a weeks. Is not your book worth it?
Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of Andrew Joyce Pontificates. Thank you for tuning in.