Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Importance of Cover Art

This subject is something I've been reading a lot about in the past few days, and I'm certain the idea has some merit. After all, a good percentage of our book sales will be made based on the cover (especially for e-books!) and the description or blurb from the back of the book. Put yourself in the place of the reader. If you see a great book cover, don't you take a few more minutes to check into that book? And if you see a poorly-done or generic cover, don't you click the 'back' button quickly, sometimes even without reading the description? Your cover is going to be your first impression with your potential readers.

So, with this in mind, I set about redesigning the cover for Once Upon a Western Way. I'd used an image years ago when I first published through Smashwords, an image I really liked. But when it came time to go to print, I didn't have the capability to take that same image and make the resolution good enough for a hard copy. So I used CreateSpace's cover designer, which has a lot of different options, images, font types, and so on. But what I came up with, though I was satisfied at the time, seemed a little generic and didn't describe any of the story. Plus, I'd seen another author on Twitter who had the EXACT same cover, even the color! Here is the before image.

I recently read another book published by Mark Coker, of Smashwords, regarding marketing of e-books (though the same principles can be applied to print books as well), and he tells a story of a Smashwords author who, simply by upgrading her cover, went to the top of the New York Times' Bestselling Ebook list. Now, I'm not aspiring to be that author (or shall I say, expecting to be), but it got me to thinking of my book cover and if I could improve sales with an upgraded cover.

So, I started looking in to some of the lower-cost cover designers that Smashwords maintains a list of (plus a few others I'd gotten to know on Twitter). My budget for something of this magnitude is virtually nil, but Smashwords' list has people who can design covers for starting at $45. I had an idea of a young man and young woman in medieval clothing, with a castle in the background. But in looking through several portfolios, I noted that a lot of the people had a cartoonish look, or that type of look that just says, CGI rather than photo. I didn't want that kind of look for this.

My husband suggested I return to my original image, and I was trying to explain about Dots Per Inch and image resolution, and how I kept getting error messages in my CreateSpace cover creator when I'd previously tried to use it. Plus, I'd lost the original file to the old laptop's blue screen of death, and I tried taking a picture of the picture (I think I had scanned it, for the Smashwords version), and the colors hadn't turned out the right way. I'd even taken it and the camera outside in natural light. So he tells me he'll take a picture of it with his phone and Bluetooth it to me. I'm thinking, "Yeah, like that's going to work." Good thing I didn't say so, because it did!

So, my new cover, with the old image, will, I hope, invite the reader into a world of kings and queens and princesses and epic love stories. Here's the new version, already uploaded and just waiting for approval (since I had to go through the review process all over again, I added the first chapter of Triple Heist to the back of it as well, as a teaser for the reader). I hope it works out well enough! Thoughts?

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