Picking a Cover

Writing a book is all about words. Words, words and more words. Then there are those pesky characters to keep straight, names, dates, hair color. And a plot. It always helps to have a plot it seems.

Assuming you get all of that, and lots more out of your head and onto the page(s), then you edit. Edit, edit, and more edit. You attempt to get your beta readers to read the book and give you feedback (a bit harder than I expected).

Eventually you get to the point that you are going to "put it out there". You are going to open yourself up to the public with your baby. Hopefully somebody will be kind. Hopefully people will enjoy the story as much as you do. Hopefully the blasted thing will sell a bit and maybe even make you a little money.

To have much of a chance in the modern ebook (or physical book) marketplace, it helps to have a cover. I don’t (or haven’t) thought about covers all that much, but looking back, I know that my eye is attracted to some books and not others. Some just turn me off before I even read the title. Others make me pick them up (or virtually look over the synopsis) and decide if they are something I want to invest money and more importantly time out of my life to read.

So where do you find this great cover to put a public face on this pile of paper on your desk? If you are publishing via the traditional path, the big publishers have departments of people that whip up artwork. Sometimes it might even match the theme of the story (I know I have plenty of books on my shelves where it is obvious that no-one involved in the artwork knew a thing about the book).

For those of us looking to go the independent route, we are either blessed with artistic talent besides our (hopeful) writing skill, or we are looking for someone who can help us out. There are lots of great artists who can provide artwork. A subset of them know about ebook (and print book) covers, the sizes and formats required, and what drives readers to pick up your work. There are options for pre-made covers (less $$), and custom designed covers (more $$$).

I know it’s worth the investment, but this ebook publishing is also a bit of a shot in the dark. Will anybody like this book? Will it ever sell? Can I get my friends to even buy a copy? With these concerns running around in my head, I don’t feel comfortable with a large $$$ expenditure, at least until I get a bit more feedback. That left me looking at pre-made covers.

There are several artists that had things I liked, and they regularly post new designs. I’ve periodically kept my eye out for a good match. The other day I opened up a couple of the folks that I thought matched my style most often and they each had a likely candidate. One was pretty close to my mental image of the planet that has a central role in my book. The other was a set of three with a more abstract design, but themed "together".

I showed both options to my critics (my wife and son), and they both agreed that the "series" batch was best. I engaged the designer and we’re working through some of the details. Once that’s done, I’ll actually have a cover and will post a link to the supplier.