More Self-Pub Decisions

So, you’ve decided to self-pub. That’s one big decision out of the way. Now for the next one: The Cover. Others may dispute putting this first on the list of must-dos, but it’s on mine because of the important impact it has on your enthusiasm level. After months or years of slaving over your manuscript, a cover is the first visible projection of what you’re working on. A cover says you’re at the point of launch or soon to be there. It says you’re a legitimate author. As you continue to perfect your book, you’ll find yourself frequently (and fondly) glancing at your cover.

To find a cover designer, look on the web. Make note of the ones who’ve done covers for books similar to yours and evaluate them as you would any other service. Before anything else, you want to know whether they’re versatile in their work or if they recycle the same old themes in cover after cover. Some similarities are good — for example, for books in a series. But most of the time similarities are bad. You’re looking for distinctiveness and unique appeal.

After you’ve whittled down the list,  pare it some more by taking a good hard look at each designer’s clients. Have you heard of any of them? If so, that’s a plus. If not, you might want to visit Amazon and see what their pages look like. A nice cover and bad reviews don’t necessarily tell you anything. But it’s a question mark.

Next, examine the designer’s testimonials. Anyone can write a testimonial, a friend, mother, etc.  Match the testimonials to the covers displayed (if they aren’t already matched). Throw out the rest. What you’re looking for in the testimonials are reliability, minimum or no corrections, good interpretation of the book’s description, and adhering to any written directions or requests the author made. In addition to liking the designer’s work, you want to know that h/she will be a good match for your expectations. Just saying the cover is great is good news but it doesn’t really tell you anything. Feel free to contact the authors listed under testimonials. You can probably find them on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media.

For my first book, I hired a designer who completely ignored the atmosphere I wanted portrayed. “Message From Panama” takes place in a steamy hot jungle country known for its intrigue. The designer gave me a generic techno-thriller cover in shades of grey and white. first cover not usedBecause he’d done such engaging covers for several well-known writers, I emailed my description again and gave him a second chance. The second time was perfect. Second chances are solely up to you.Kindle Cover smallerBy now, you’ve put your compilation of designers through several tests and you should have a short list to contact.  Send the remaining designers an email and describe your project. Ask the designer when s/he would be able to fit it in to their schedule. Nail down the price and make sure you know what it includes and doesn’t. If you’re planning to sell your book solely as an ebook, you may want the designer to prepare only a front cover. If you’re going to add soft copy sales, you’ll need a back cover as well.  Some designers don’t do back covers so check this carefully. I had a different artist for the two covers. This was not out of choice but necessity.  The first designer went South on me.

Two further items.  Make sure your back cover designer includes your bar code. And don’t forget your spine art. It should be included with the price.

Note:  Think carefully before asking a friend or relative to prepare your cover. You need to view this all important step in the publishing process objectively, something that’s hard to do when the designer is close to you.

Next week: Sorting out the different e-publishers and some hints..

~~ Jane Vasarhelyi

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4 thoughts on “More Self-Pub Decisions

  1. Jane, I’ve heard time and time again how important it is to find the right cover designer, and your story only stresses that fact. I’m one of those people who buys by cover first, and then book blurb. That’s just the way I’m hard-wired. Great thoughts, and looking forward to more tips on this blog!

  2. It’s interesting how people react, Terri. I’ve only had one person tell me they pay no attention to covers and I’m not quite sure I believe them. To me, a cover is a visual summary. Don’t know how you can ignore that.

    Thanks for the comment; please do stop by again. We’ll be blogging about an interesting mix of things and also posting a list of topics we’ve already covered, particularly from our “edgy” week.


  3. My granddaughter, a graphic design artist, did mine, but it was a learning process for her, too, one that took some time. But we consulted on it throughout the process, and she not only honored my ideas, but also came up with some of her own that made it better. There are few greater feelings than to hold one’s first book in one’s hand with a cover even better than one could have imagined. A little aside here, she had trouble finding a picture of the right kind of body for my cover, so I asked my son if he would pose as a dead body for me – without the garden fork in the back, of course. He agreed to put on decent clothes, lay down in his yard and let me snap pictures of him in various poses as a dead body. He is on the cover of my first book, THE BLUE ROSE, now with a garden fork in his back. His only complaint? He’d shaved his head prior to this because of the hot weather, and she didn’t add hair to the picture.

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