History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Self Publishing and Covers

Cover art for Camp HauntWhen it comes to self-published books, cover art can have a huge impact on your sales. Even though we say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” the truth of the matter is that for many readers looking for a new book, covers are what draws them to a book by an author they’ve never heard of. So it’s a good idea to have a good cover that does quite a bit of work for you.

  1. You want a cover that draws the eye. For most people, this means something visually compelling about the cover. A plain white cover with black text is probably not going to cut it. On the other hand, a partially white cover DOES draw the eye, especially when it stands out among more colorful and/or darker covers.
  2. You want a cover that gives an impression of the sort of book you’re selling on a quick glance. For example, looking at the cover forĀ Camp Haunt, one might guess it’s got some horror or other creepiness to it (the title also helps with that impression). The colors in the background and the bright red, slightly drippy looking font both contribute to that. If this book were a more light-hearted kids’ book, perhaps with the same title but maybe a camp for cute ghosts, you’d want a cover that reflects that, perhaps with pastel colors and cartoon-like illustrations of some of these cute ghosts.
  3. You want a cover that fits in with your genre but doesn’t BLEND in with your genre. For this, you’ll want to look at other similar covers in the genre of your book and see what the trends are. Then emulate, don’t imitate. This is key, because too much imitation, and there will be nothing to make your book stand out if it’s on a shelf with six other books with nearly identical covers. (Especially when you’re using stock photography on a cover, make sure it’s not the same hooded figure as the other twelve dark fantasy novels out this year or in the previous few years.) But much like the previous point about making sure your cover fits your book, you also don’t want to be the book that stands out because the cover is just wrong for the genre.
  4. You want a cover that looks professional. Not all self-published authors can afford to get big name artists to do their book covers. The good news is that there are affordable, professional looking options from talented artists who aren’t well known (yet). It’s also possible to make your own book covers, but if you go this route, it’s helpful to get outside opinions on your covers in progress, so that you’re not creating entirely in a vacuum. What looks awesome to you might have flaws that you can’t see by being too close to the piece.

As an additional point, bear in mind that you often get what you pay for when it comes to book covers. There are plenty of sites where people will make book covers for low prices, but it turns out that they aren’t paying for the artwork or fonts they’re using. And while that might fly under the radar of the copyright holders, it’s not something you want to risk for a book that you’re self publishing!

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