Self Publishing: Is it for you? Part 3: Covers

This is an ongoing series of tips and advice on self publishing and whether or not its for you. Check out part two by clicking here.

Welcome back to the self publishing series. Last time we discussed using a freelance editor to beautify your writing. Today we are going to discuss covers. Everyone judges a book by its cover…everyone! The most important thing you can do for your book, after having a wonderful inside, is to have a screaming outside. Your book not only has to stand out from the 2 million+ other books out there, but it has to look good as a thumbnail. The best investment you can make is on a cover designer.

Now you are probably thinking, “Hey I got Photoshop two years ago for Christmas. Can’t I just grab a picture online and slap my title on it?” Well, you could if you wanted. There are plenty of places that sell stock photos you can use if you pay for the rights to use them. DO NOT just go on Google and pull a picture. That is violating copyright and just as you do not want someone to steal your text to make money, artists and photographers don’t want you to steal their images for your profit. These are some of the stock photo sites that I use as a freelance illustrator/cover designer: istockphoto.com, dreamstime.com, shutterstock.com, and fotosearch.com. I am not personally endorsing any of these sites; and some are more pricier than others. Make sure you read the fine details of the image when you purchase it. Also if you have Photoshop there is no reason to pay for the highest resolution image. Never get above 300 dpi because you won’t even upload it to Createspace or LightingSource higher than that. I always get the medium option and bump up the resolution in Photoshop later.

Sound like too much work to do it yourself? Good! I say good, because too many authors think they are cover designers and they are not. That’s okay if you are a darn good writer and suck the biscuit at covers. I will admit to the world right now that I am still learning to do even a good job on adult covers. Now picture books, sure I have those nailed because I specialize in children’s art. Anything else and I will try my best—but maybe my best is not what is going to sell your book. So PLAN ON a cover designer! It’s one less thing you have to do. And let’s admit it you probably wouldn’t do as great a job as someone else—be honest…

Let’s talk price right now because I know you have your “inner-banker” screaming in your head you can’t fork over a couple grand on your cover.  Don’t worry Mr. or Ms. Tightwad, they will not break your bank. There are awesome cover designers that charge way below what they should and far too many bad ones charging too much.  Look to spend between $80-$50RedDresses-300x1460. Make sure when you are looking into a cover designer that they are credible and have great endorsements. Ask your author groups. See who has used who. Also make sure the price they quote you is for the eBook cover, print version, or both. Some charge more for the print because they are then doing a full-wrap. Most charge about half if it’s just the eBook cover. For example. I charge between $150-$300 to do my full-wrFlirtingWithBoysHaileyAbbott-99x150ap covers for print. The majority of my covers are all hand drawn, illustrated art, that you will never ever see on someone else’s cover. Make sure your cover designer is giving you exclusive images. You don’t SecretLifeof-PrinceCharmingDebCaletti-99x150want this to happen with your book. Look at these covers. Notice how each cover is a different book with the same exact image. Unless the cover with the same image as yours is selling like crazy you want an original cover.

These are a few cover designers you might want to look into. I do not personally vouch for them but I do know them and they do a pretty fantastic job. http://jamesecurwen.blogspot.com/p/book-covers.html, http://novakillustration.com/, http://walkingstickbooks.com/, and of course myself http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/freelance-illustrator/. Check out their book covers they have available in their galleries. Ask around to see what feedback others have to say about them. Remember that some of these guys have been around longer than others and they might have a much bigger gallery—this doesn’t mean the ones with only a few covers under their belt are bad (they just need more opportunities to shine). Always get in writing how long they are going to take and the estimated cost of your cover. Ask them if they charge for changes and if you have rights to the cover after all said and paid. See if they have sales. I know James Curwen occasionally has a pre-cover sale. He has a gallery of available pre-done covers that he sales for $50! WOW!

Once you decide whether you are going to get a cover designer or not, research the popular books in your genre. Make sure you are looking at TODAY’S best sellers and not the ones from years ago. The themes and styles of covers change all the time and you don’t want you book to disappear when placed amongst the others selling. Another thing to consider is whether your book is going to be a part of series or a stand alone. All the books in your series should complement each other in some way. The fonts should be the same and the colors should complement each other.

Remember that evePollryone judges a book by its cover and you should too. It is the one thing you have to attract readers to your book. Let me give an example about what not to do. When I was ready to release my book THE DREAM KEEPER I thought I had created the perfect cover. When I got the proof copy I was utterly disappointed and set to creating a new one. You’d think with being an illustrator it would be easy. I came up with another cover, more colorful and child-friendlycase5.500x8.500.indd. I posted the cover on Facebook and just waited to hear the wonderful remarks on how awesome it was. That never happened. Instead I got an email from a very brave and honest colleague who shared that he thought I should rethink my cover.  I took his advice and came up with another one. This time I played it smarter and did a cover contest. I wanted to see what age group I was trying to market my book toward. What was interesting was the second cover, the brighter more kid-friendly cover, was picked by kids under the age of 9. My new cover was selected by ages 10-15 (my target audience). I found my cover! I am so glad someone pointed out my mistake before it actually went to print. Fortunately as an indie we can change our covers anytime, but I believe in always making a great first impression, FIRST.

Check back next week for more information on self publishing and whether or not this long road to publishing is for you. The key is to never give up on your dream whether you want to be self or traditionally published. Both ways are tough as nails, but rewarding as a dream come true. Happy Writing! CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART FOUR.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

5 comments
Vickie S Ericksen
Vickie S Ericksen

I have a mock up for my cover but need help with lettering. I know nothing about all this and need help with fonts, coloring, etc. Is there anyone who could help me?

Mikey Brooks
Mikey Brooks

Sure thing. Send me an email: insidemikeysworld@gmail.com. Let me know what I can do. :)

Debra Erfert
Debra Erfert

Since paranormal books aren't in vogue right now, I will be indie-pubbing the first book in my WINDOWS paranormal CIA trilogy this summer, and I will be designing my own covers, but then I'm an award-winning artist, and if I can't figure it out, then I'm in real trouble. I got my first electronic pen and tablet accessory for my Mac on Mother's Day (thank you, honey!). I'll get right to it after I query out my just finished suspense novel. So many projects, so little time! Thank you for your insights into self-publishing, Mikey. By the way, your covers rock!

Alice Beesley
Alice Beesley

Covers matter a lot. One author I know who is traditionally published could not get her book in Barnes and Nobel because they didn't like the cover.