Covers Part 1
You know the old adage to never judge a book by it’s cover? Yeah. That does not apply here.
100% your book will be judged by it’s cover. Your cover is the first impression a reader has of your book. Is it eye catching? Does it stand out? Is it well balanced? What’s on the cover? Who is on the cover?
When I tell you all that my cover sells my book, I mean it. I have had a number of people contact me to say they saw my cover and bought it, not knowing what was inside, only knowing there was a plus size woman on the cover. It was something that called to them, and they bought the book because of it.
YOUR COVER WILL SELL YOUR BOOK.
It also tells your reader what will be inside. It’s their first hint at a genre. It’s the introduction.
Your cover matters. So let’s work out how to decide what you want, and how to get it!
For as much as you want your book cover to stand out, you also want it to fit within genre expectations. You want for your book to be recognizable in what you are presenting. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
For me, I went and looked at paranormal romance and paranormal erotica covers. They are mostly dark with some bold lettering and occasionally some swirly lettering with either a shirtless man or a couple on them, for the most part. I also looked at werewolves, which often either has a wolf or a full moon on the cover.
I knew what part of my cover would stand out, which was my plus size heroine. For you, it might be a pop of color or a symbol or something floral. Something that will make it stand out.
Come up with an idea in your head as to what you want. Will it blend in with comparable while also having something that will draw your eye?
HOW TO DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT
But how do you decide what you want?
Well, that’s up to you… but also, genre expectations! But also, what do you think your readers will like?
For example, a symbol with bold lettering and florals and a dagger is very in with YA. RomComs are typically drawn art. Anything with a beach will have a picture of the beach.
These are genre expectations, yes, but do you like the expectation? Or do you want to go in a different direction?
A great way to figure out what you might want is by looking at premades, which we will discuss in detail further down, but…
Lots of cover designers have premades. Scroll through them. What do you like? What do you not like? Open up Canva and play around with different options. The type of cover you want will influence which type of artist or designer you contact, and you need to have a clear vision in mind.
For as much as a cover sells a book, if you end up hating it, you can always change it in the future and publish a new edition.
WHAT ABOUT SERIES?
Think about what you have planned for a series, if you have one. Do you want the covers to all match? Do you want the letter colors to change from book to book? Do you want variations on the spine? Do you want a picture to form?
If you have multiple ideas that are all similar enough, use them on different books in the series!
For me personally, I knew I wanted to change accent color on each of my books. With the first book, I went with a blue, and with the second, a green. My third book is orange and the fourth is purple. So on and so forth, all on a dark blue background.
HOW TO FIND AND HOW TO CONNECT
Alright, you have an idea of what you want… so how the heck do you find the person to do it?
Your first option is your easiest option, and that is to post on social media, asking for recommendations. I know that can be scary, but everyone got their cover somewhere, so post and ask!
Your second option takes a little more work, but is totally doable! Check inside of your favorite books! Many authors will include, on the copyright page, who they used for editing, proofing, formatting, and cover design!
Your third option is to use this spreadsheet. Do not ask me where the heck it came from. It was given to me months ago and I saved it as a google tab. Make a copy of it and use it for your own devices.
Your final option is facebook, specifically, facebook groups. Almost every cover designer has their own facebook group because they can post their pre-mades there, along with information about openings, sales, and other goodies.
( When I told you guys to make a fb account, I wasn’t kidding. Lots of stuff happens on fb. )
From there, once you’ve found someone, look at their website, as most will have a website. You can typically find prices for what you want, whether it be ebook only or ebook and paperback. They also typically have add-ons listed with prices, such as promotional material, audiobook covers, and other goodies.
Once you’re ready, contact them! Have a basic idea of what you want, and a deadline of when you want it. You obviously are going to need your cover in time for your pre-order to go up, and that needs time before your release date, so!
The sooner the better.
WHAT ABOUT PREMADES
Let’s talk about premades, because, they’re kind of the best thing ever, if you’re open to being flexible and working with what you get.
A premade is a cover that is already designed and pretty set in stone. The only alterations that will be made is your book name and author information, along with adding the blurb.
Premades are used to expand a designer’s portfolio, but also give them a use, which is why they’re typically much cheaper than a custom cover.
And they’re a super great affordable option!
You’re going to find premades, as I mentioned in facebook groups, although they are often also listed on websites as well.
So, if you only have a vague idea as to what you want and are open to the possibilities, check them out!
ILLUSTRATOR VS COVER DESIGNER
You may have previously seen people note that they are an illustrator and not a cover designer. What this means is, they are drawing (illustrating) art for the cover. Some covers are made with stock images and combining them in a balanced way, aka designed, in order to look marketable and pretty. Other covers are done with more design via manipulation and graphics. And then, they are covers which are entirely hand drawn.
The route you take will be decided based on what you want, what you need, and who you work with. That is all up to you!
WHAT I DID
Let’s take a moment to talk about what I did for a moment, because I went the most budget friendly route that was possible for me to both get what I want and have something aesthetically pleasing.
Everyone will tell you not to use fiverr. I am telling you that fiverr is cheap for a reason. Those reasons are one of the following: it’s because things are stolen, things are poorly done, or the designers are gaining experience and a portfolio.
I got lucky. My designer is someone gaining experience and going to university on the other side of the world, and designing covers on fiverr is earning her a good income. She probably deserves a lot more than I pay and tip her, to be honest, and I’ve increased my tips with each cover, because her work is fabulous.
For me, I started with finding the stock photos I wanted. Depositphotos is considered one of the best stock sites because they verify licenses and releases it. They also do an appsumo sale twice a year, so you can purchase more for less.
From there, I looked at artists on fiverr with a good rating, and then looked at their portfolio. I glanced at the various covers, then started looking at those exact books on amazon. I found a few of them and checked the inside cover, and found they had credited their cover artist… the same person I was looking at on fiverr.
From there, I told the designer exactly what I wanted. I gave them the stock image information. I did not HAVE to buy the stock images myself, but I felt better doing it. I gave them a clear picture of what I wanted.
And I got exactly what I wanted.
Do I encourage everyone to go this route? Not necessarily. I’ve had to use my own photoshop skills to fix a few things along the way. Some details have been lost in translation. I also do not think they can do the types of covers I want in the future.
But for starting out? It worked for me, and it’s an option for you.
WHAT THE HECK DO DESIGNERS MEAN BY DIMENSIONS
Hi yes we’re going to talk about this more when we get to the formatting section, but…
The dimensions of your book will be the width by the height by the thickness. I went with 8 x 5, which appears to be pretty standard, although some do go 8.5 x 5.5. The thickness of your book will be determined by the number of pages which is determined by your formatting, margins, font size and shape, and of course word count. For note, my 298 page book is .75 inches thick, and it’s about 85k words.
For most designers, they just need a rough estimate of your size for your spine, and they need to know the height and width from the start.
Take a look at the books on your shelves and decide on what you want!
And with that said…
I think this post is getting big enough, so check back later this week to see…
Covers Part 2
Alright, it’s time to tackle one of the hardest things you’re going to have to write… your blurb.
Now, if you haven’t had to write one yet, I’m sure you’re saying, how is that possibly the hardest thing?!
Listen, you know your novel inside and out, you have a hundred thoughts and plans and back stories that didn’t even make it into the final cut, and you have so many potential ideas for spinoffs, it’s insane. And you have to cut it down to 300 words?
Now before we even start, I want to say one thing – there are HUNDREDS of ways to write a blurb, and there is no one right answer. This is, however, the step by step guide that I was more or less advised upon, and therefore, I’m going to give you a few guidelines to follow.
AFTER ALL OF THIS IS SAID AND DONE
GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE TO READ AND EDIT.
Okay? Let’s do this.
Why does a blurb even matter?
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. The simple fact is, a blurb is the secondary impression a reader is going to get from your book. They look at the cover, and then they flip it over, and they read what’s on the back.
Or… They see the cover, then scroll to read the synopsis.
Or… They’re a reviewer you just reached out to, and they want to know the blurb to see whether or not it’s something they might enjoy reading.
Your blurb needs to be short and concise and give a reader an accurate impression of what they will find within the pages.
So, let’s hit some basic…
Gonna keep this short, sweet, and to the point:
Talk about your character, what they want, and what stands in their way.
If there’s multiple POVs, you need to mention all of them, unless…
You’re reaching the point of like 4 POVs. In which case… group people.
Don’t hold back on introductions. If it’s something revealed in the first 30 pages, reveal it if it gives the reader something they can latch onto.
Make it short and to the point. Like I said, what they want, and what the problem is.
INCLUDE KEYWORDS… at the bottom
Let’s take this cart off the road for a second.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is a bit of research. Think of a book you really love that is from the same genre of what you are writing, and go look at what they have done. Look at how big it is.
Get a feel for it. What are the things they highlight? How did they word it?
You want your blurb to fit genre standards and expectations, so readers know what they are getting into and don’t have to try and figure you out.
Cart back on the road, now.
How to write it.
THIS IS YOUR GRAIN OF SALT SECTION OF THE DAY. THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR ME. IT MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU.
Start with a tag line or a log line or something that is unique to this book. Something that grabs your attention. Something that clearly hits what does your MC want/need and what stands in their way.
The journey might be long, but he knows he has to reach his destination. The fate of the world depends upon it.
COOL OKAY YOU CATCH PEOPLE’S ATTENTION. Put that bitch in bold. Maybe even a different color on your paperback.
NOW. TIME TO INTRODUCE PEOPLE.
Brobo Taggins was a simple fobbit living a simple life, until everything turned upside down. He knows the path before him will be hard, but with a group around him to support him, he can do it, and save everything.
Only, the ring is heavy, and he does not know the way. Still, he must journey on. His precious Fire depends upon him, along with everyone and everything else he has ever known.
Mamwise Mamgee knows what he must do, even if the others cannot see it. Mr. Brobo would never be able to make the journey alone, but he will join him, every step of the way. He must, for there would be no other way.
Along with their merry Fellowship, they begin their journey towards Cormor, not knowing what stands between them and saving the world.
ALRIGHT. I introduced the main character. And then I introduced the other main character. And then I mentioned the rest of the gang. Arguably, I could have noted that the gang brings along jokes, herbs, not swords, not axes, and not bows, but this also works!
You get where I’m going with this?
AND THEN, WE CLOSE IT ALL UP WITH A KEYWORD FILLED AUTHOR’S NOTE.
The first book in a trilogy of epic proportions, this tale includes fighting for the fate of a fantasy world, filled with intrigue, mystery, bravery, and a few talking trees along the way. Featuring smelves who do dumb things and farves who can’t stop talking.
Bold that end bit, and chuck it at the end of the blurb on books two and three, changing first book to second and final, etc… and look at that! You have a tag line for the book, a tag line for the series, and a specialized blurb highlighting the most important POV’s.
Does any of this make sense? I really hope it does.
Rewrite it. Or not. You could always yeet that thing into the wide open space of the interweb.
The next step is to share it. Share it with your Alpha readers and Beta readers. They know your story. Does the blurb match the story they read? Share it in FB groups! See what other authors thing!
Find another author who writes a similar genre as you. Get them to look at it. What do they see that can be highlighted?
But also, again, you can rewrite it! If people don’t like the original, try writing it again. And again. And again. Moosh and mash things together to rewrite it. Do it again. Continue on until people are ready to read your book!
And then, share it!
And if you need help, please ask. I would love to take a look at your blurb. We can figure something out, promise.
Please Note: This post was originally published and share on Elle’s Authoring Chaos Patreon on 9 March and 11 March 2022.