We know the old adage well, yet we still find ourselves, without even realising it sometimes, judging books by their covers. A couple of years ago the folks over at http://thebooksmugglers.com conducted a survey of their readers, and the results were very interesting. There were approximately 600 respondents, all fans of a broad array of genres.
- 79% said that the cover plays a “decisive role” in a book-buying decision.
- 40% said that they would not buy a book they want to read in hardcover, if the cover looked bad. Instead they’d wait for the paperback with a nicer cover.
- 40% said that the cover would be, or has been, the sole deciding factor in buying a book.
From a practical point of view, of course, relevance is an important key. Another cliché states that things are often clichéd for a reason (including that one? I’ll let the philosophers ponder). When it comes to highly graphical book covers, certain genres carry certain image-themes, and if your horrific war tragedy is emblazoned with scenes of a hazy summer romance, or Heart of Darkness looks like The Hobbit then someone has made a wrong turn somewhere. Even the less graphical designs have a purposeful feel to them; use of colour, texture, shape and type can convey dark, gloomy, bright, gritty, edgy, and so on – careless use of which can mislead a potential buyer.
The obvious answer when writing solo and self-publishing is to find a professional to design and craft your perfect cover for you, but since quality often comes at a cost, you might find yourself eyeing up Photoshop and Googling for royalty-free stock images. If you have the technical skills and visual eye to design and create a cover yourself, or have the time and eagerness to learn, then this is probably your best choice, since it’s free. There are just a few things to remember:
- Pay attention to your platform’s guidelines. For example, if you’re using Createspace, you can consult their help pages to find out what sizes, resolutions and formats you’ll need.
- Print and screen are very different. Remember that people still buy actual physical copies of books, printed on “paper” (remember that?) – and computer screens are a fickle crowd. You might hone your cover until it looks perfect on your laptop, but it looks far too bright on your phone / tablet / friend’s computer. Try to get it looking good on a few different screens, then print it out. It’s probably going to look very dark on paper, so you’ll likely end up needing two different versions of your cover – one for screen and one for print.
- You can get too close. Like writing the book itself, or any creative endeavour, designing can be something you get so close to that you’re not sure whether you’ve just created a masterpiece or a worthless, amateurish mess. Once finished, resist the urge to tweak or even look at it for a couple of days, then go back and decide.
Remember, a cover is not an afterthought to your story, it is the all-important first impression, a visual summary, a glimpse inside, and people will be judging your book by it.
September, 2013: When the summer ended, so did the world.
Staggering under a volley of meteorite hits, cities the world over are evacuated by the military as violent earthquakes, floods, storms and fires rage across the planet.
The journey unfolds through the jaded yet childlike eyes of Silas Stanley, a recently escaped psychiatric patient who must travel hundreds of miles across a devastated Britain to find his dying daughter before the world ends. Through ruined and deserted cities, flooded countryside and burning fields, Silas makes his way from an evacuated London all the way to his old home town in the Lake District, all the while startled and amazed by the world around him. En route he must avoid the strict martial law that is in force, and steer clear of the huge nuclear explosions being set off by the military in a last-ditch attempt to correct the earth’s faltering orbit.
On a world knocked off course and brought to its knees, love for his family finally forces Silas to face the enormity of his own past with just as much bravery as his uncertain future.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Apocalyptic fiction
Rating – PG