SPA Girls Podcast – EP43 – Great Covers And How To Get One
This week we talk about covers for ebooks. And yet again, we got the episode number wrong – it’s episode 43, not 42. (It’s a nice surprise to realise we’re one episode further along than we thought we were…) We’ve mentioned self publishing covers in passing on previous episodes, but this week we put the microscope to the topic and try to work out what makes them great. We talk about our experiences on our own covers, the changes we’ve made along the way, and why we’ve made them. We also discuss how to work with a designer, how to decide what you should put on your cover, and what your readers want from your cover. And finally, we talk about the idea that sometimes the cover you love isn’t the one that’s going to sell your book, and you need to put aside your fragile writer’s ego, and go for the one that’s most suitable to the type of book you’ve written. 🙂 “If you slap a spaceship on the cover of your women’s fiction novel, it’s going to reach completely the wrong readers.” Shar Barratt.
Be mindful of your brand – readers will certainly judge a book by its cover!
Remember a cover is all about marketing – finding the right readers and not the wrong readers will safeguard your brand. There is no room for ego.
Your cover is the show case of your work. Covers are a shorthand for what the story is about and it should make a statement to the reader that how it looks on the outside reflects exactly what they can expect inside.
It’s not about what you like, so you will need to research what your reader likes. Firstly, they need to understand the cover. Certain images are for certain genres. Check on your genre – who writes like you do? Who does their covers?
What impact will the cover have on a reader?
This is huge. You have approximately 8 seconds in a store to capture readers by a cover and far less than that online. They will see your cover as a thumbnail initially – the size of a postage stamp. So it must pop and an unprofessional cover will make a difference.
When should you purchase your cover?
Don’t wait until you finish the book to source your cover. Unless your designer is amazing, you will have to make changes and get some feedback.
What goes on a cover?
Your Name – Big and bold, your name should be the same font on each book you write in the same genre, and it should be bigger than the title.
Title – Nearly as big and bold as your name
Subtitle – smaller and relevant
Credits – Are you an award winner? New York Times Bestseller?
Tagline – something that draws in the reader.
Logo – for series
A few tips:
Download top 10 kindle sellers in your category in the same size and note the similarities.
Understand where the stock images come from (the site) and what is the license for that cover. They should be reliable and licensed images.
Unless they are professionals don’t ask friends or family to make them or to try doing them yourself.
Know what you can or can’t do on a cover as there are written and unwritten rules around this. E.g. sexuality (a bare shoulder in the wrong genre may not be permissible)
Series covers will look similar and have the same font.
It’s a process and when you commission a cover there is a lot of going back and forwards so a premade may suit you at first.
Premades – They’re like buying a dress off the rack as opposed to buying couture.
Custom – You can go as far as being able to select the model, but this is hugely expensive. More usual is to pick a stock graphic from a good site, then approach a designer who has a good reputation.
Any one can say they are a cover designer so you need to do your homework. Check out their sites and their portfolio. Use recommendations in your genre.
Provide a brief and understand how the designer works.
Can you do a print book with this package later down the track?
How many chances will you have to make revisions?
Stand up for yourself if you don’t like the first design. They will know what they’re talking about but may not be as knowledgeable as you are or about your genre.
Use clear colors, and a look that distinguishes the genre.
Ask readers of your genre what stands out for them.
Don’t be afraid to change them.
Why would I change my cover?
Rule of thumb – if a free book is not selling it is probably due to the cover.
Times change and you may need to update your covers more than once. Some authors refresh them perhaps every 2 or 3 years to boost sales.
Sites for cover designers
KBoards has a list of designers which should cost you approximately $40-$80 USD for a premade.