Monday, April 04, 2016

Self-Publishing A to Z: COVERS

Welcome to the Trogloblog, where I ramble on about whatever strikes my fancy. For April, I'm participating in the epic A to Z Blogging Challenge, where Monday through Friday, I'll be posting a letter-themed article.

This year, I've chosen to focus on Self-Publishing. It's something I've been doing for about 4 years now, and despite my low midlist status, I have learned quite a few things. Instead of hosting seminars and charging admission, or selling a book on How to Self Publish, I'm going to share this knowledge with you, the reader, FOR FREE. That's right, April is All About Self-Publishing.

If you're not interested in learning how to self-publish, or if you just can't read enough, check out my fiction blog over at STONE SOLDIERS. For the third year, I'm going to be doing listings of people, places, and things from my Supernatural Military Thriller series. But this year, instead of looking back at what's been done, I'm going to look ahead, and offer a sneak peak at what's to come in 2016 and 2017. 

Now back to self-pubbing...


One of the most ironic things in the self-publishers life is the fact that people do in fact judge a book by its cover--despite the old admonishment not to. It is a simple fact of human psychology that we judge things by how they look: people, products, places. If they aren't visually appealing, people will turn away. Your book or story, over which you sweated and fretted, is no exception. You need a good hook to bring them in...

First off, don't listen to the dishonest vanity sharks circling you in these literary waters. Predators are just waiting to sink their teeth into your hard-earned money and provide you services they'll swear you need to be successful. Bullshit. You wrote the book yourself. You can DIY a cover too. Just make sure you know what you're doing...

The first step to learning how to make a cover is study. Study what others have done, both successfully and unsuccessfully. In your genre and others. The best place to star for how not to do it is GOOD SHOW, SIR, a site featuring some of the worst coivers to cloud the internet with their awfulness. 

Once you have an idea of what not to do, think about what you want to convey. Yes, it's true that people go to college for advertising and design, but that doesn't mean you can't make a decent cover yourself... after you learn how to use a graphics program and understand what elements are key to your genre. 

Not interested in DIYing your cover? You're a writer not an artist? No problem. Don't reach for that checkbook or extra kidney yet. There are some pretty damned cheap places to search for your cover. My favorite is Fiverr

Now, the most important thing to remember about your cover is that you aren't married to it. Not even an Islamic marriage where you'd have to chant "I change you, I change you, I change you" to be free of that first wretched attempt. No, if you want to change your cover, you you just do it. Traditional publishing changes book covers all the time. There's nothing wrong with it. 

I find that the best course of action is to get a decent cover and put your book up for sale. Reinvest those first few sales into a better cover. To a point. Don't strive for a Mona Lisa on the front of your book. The best cover in the world won't guarantee sales...

Yes, that's right, despite all the bullshit the cover-makers loudly yell from the mountain, turning their noses up at us DIYers because we didn't pay them, the simple fact is that covers don't magically summon readers. No arcane symbol on your book's front is going to open a portal to millions. 

When you self-publish a book, your job is only half done. The second half is marketing your book. Covers are a tiny step in marketing. The best damned cover in the world is not going to make you a bestseller. Exposure is. And I'm not talking men's abs or women's knockers (unless you write smut novels, then it might). 

Readers have to know your book exists before they'll even look at your cover and decide to investigate further. So don't fret too much over design and don't sink too much money into that first impression. ADVERTISING is far more important...

Check back tomorrow for the next article on self-publishing: DIVERSE BOOKS. Until then, check the comments below for links to other A to Zers participating in the Blog Challenge 2016.

1 comment:

Mason Canyon said...

Covers are an important part of the whole package.

Alex's Ninja Minion