Welcome to a new series of blog posts titled “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing”. Authors Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Reet Singh, Ruchi Singh, Adite Banerjie, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I — will be posting on a multitude of subjects related to writing.
Topics will be chosen alphabetically and each week we propose to cover at least one or more subjects characterised by the Alphabet of the Week.
This week, I have decided to discuss cover design 🙂
The cover of a book can make or break its future. Why? Because a lot of readers choose what to read based on what they see first. If a book cover catches your eye, you’re bound to check out the blurb and make a decision about putting it on your TBR list. Yes, we’re shallow like that.
Time for an author confession; my first self published book had a hideous, unprofessional cover. Just me, the Sink & the Pot (title now changed to Can a Fat Girl Get a First Kiss?) was my first attempt at putting my longer fiction out there and I had no vision about my writing career at that point. All I wanted was to hit publish. Not having enough dough to hire a cover designer, and not knowing anything about reasonably priced images available online, I drew an image of my protagonist with my terrible drawing skills instead. Then I put the above mentioned eye sore ‘art’ onto a Canva template and published my ebook.
Oh, naïve first time self publisher. I had so much to learn. When a well meaning book blogger pointed out that my cover would scare people away from my book, I didn’t bother to educate myself. Instead, I changed the cover template colors to something a bit brighter. The book was not doing well. I was unhappy. But I was just too happy to get my semi-autobiographical story out there.
Fast forward to a few months later when I realised that I was in the author community for the long haul – I was ready to be an authorpreneur. Long term career goals. Vision. I suddenly had those things in mind and that meant studying LOTS of material on the self publishing business. It hit me. Hard.
WRITING IS JUST A TEENY-TINY PART OF THE AUTHOR’S JOB.
There’s marketing, editing, proofreading, beta readers, translations, diversifying writing income etc. And on the list… COVER DESIGN! So my cover for my first self published novella had to go. My first idea was to hire an artist friend to do cool cover art for me – but I couldn’t afford that or take any favours when I knew how much time and sweat goes into art.
My second option was to hire a designer on a site like Fiverr where designers offer freelance services from all over the world. I didn’t do this because I wasn’t sure about using the services of a completely unknown person. Also, what if he/she couldn’t translate my story’s essence into the perfect cover?
I decided to play around with Canva.com which has plenty of free templates for Twitter posts, Facebook posts, Kindle books and so on. That’s when I realised that the templates could be customised, fonts changed, colours experimented with, free images added in. Plus, there are tons of images that you can purchase for a reasonable price and put on your ebook cover too. To make a long story short; my ebook covers look much better now.
As an independent author of ebooks, I can afford to experiment and change my cover as often as I want to. When I was working with a traditional publisher for my first two books, their cover designer made my work simple – we did some brainstorming and came up with mock designs using relevant images, narrowing it down until the designer’s cover matched with what the publisher and I had visualised.
Here are some pointers:
- Do some research. In other words, check out other books in your genre to get an idea of covers that have worked. Are the covers font heavy or more image heavy?
- Are you using too many different fonts on your cover? Play it safe and stick to a couple of fonts only.
- Clutter sucks. Does your cover look like a messy space?
- Keep your author name smaller than the title unless you’re really famous.
- Test your cover design options with your readers. You could post two designs and run a poll on Twitter or Facebook.
- Do a thorough hunt for free images online. Check Shutterstock, for example.
- Trying something new to be different is probably not a good idea. Especially for your first book.
If you’re an author with the mission to build a long term career with your books, then you need to take your covers seriously.