Readers really do judge books by its cover. It's frequently the first thing that a reader encounters. Maybe the last, if it's not compelling.
A beautiful cover isn't enough. If the cover doesn't suit your story, if it doesn't instantly convey the correct genre and tone, doesn't re-enforce your author brand, it will do you more harm than good.
This book isn't to teach you how to create your own covers. Instead, it's to help you learn about covers, learn about design, learn about genre and tone.
Knowing Your Genre
Elements of a Cover
Paper Book Covers
If you are a new publisher just starting out, or an experienced hand who woke up one morning and discovered that the old tricks didn't work anymore, this book is for you.
The Business for Breakfast series contains bite-sized business advice. This is a 201 level book, with intermediate-level advice for the professional.
Be sure to read all the books in this series!
Leah Cutter's Business For Breakfast series showcase all the details that writers need for their self-publishing businesses. One thing they need above all else is a spectacular cover. In this concise little book, Leah teaches writers how to approach the visual arts with confidence. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
First off, I want to say that I am not a professional graphics designer. In addition, this book is not necessarily about creating your own covers, though I'll talk some about that.
Why am I writing this book, then? What can you learn from me? What is this book about?
This book is meant to teach you how to look at a cover, how to identify the elements of it, and how to judge whether or not a cover works for your story.
There are a lot of pretty covers out there. Some are even stunning. However, no matter how eye-catching a cover might be, if it doesn't suit your story, doesn't instantly convey the correct genre and tone, doesn't re-enforce your author brand, it will do you more harm than good.
I am primarily focusing on covers from a marketing point of view, and will go through how to study your genre and how to determine if a cover is right for you.
While I don't have a degree in graphic design, I have studied art, both formally in college (umpteen million years ago) as well as informally on my own. There were periods of my life when I wasn't writing much. I was still committing art, and I spent time sketching and painting. I got pretty good at it. I've also put together quilts, which means working with shades and hues of color, getting them to match or flow correctly.
Plus, most graphic designers don't have a clue about creating a good book cover.
In addition, I regularly create covers, and I have been paid by other authors to create covers. I spend time studying covers, so I know what the trends are.
This book is for publishers who are going to be regularly creating covers, or who are regularly hiring someone else to create covers. If you've only published a single book and have no intention of writing the next one for a while, this book may not be for you. (Particularly because the best piece of marketing advice I can give the one-novel writer is write the next book.)
The reason this book is for regular (or even irregular) publishers is because I'm asking you to take the craft of covers seriously. You need to study genre and cover trends, and that isn't something you can do in a single day. You need to start now, then keep at it, a little bit at a time, until you stop writing/publishing in sixty years.
Covers change over time. Think about those silly science fiction covers from the 1970s compared to the covers of today. If you're going to be a professional about your books, everything from the writing to the publishing and marketing, you need to continually learn and watch trends.
Don't fret. It can be fun. And spending the time now will hopefully make you more profitable in the future.