C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Finding a Great Book Cover

 

Please note: I posted this article this week on the 20Booksto50K Facebook group.

One night I was browsing designer websites quite aimlessly and checking out pre-made covers. One cover jumped off the page at me. The trouble was, I didn’t have a novel for that cover. The solution was to write a new thriller to the design. I had never done that before. It worked out. I just hit publish last night. Great cover and very inexpensive. (I think the thriller lives up to the cover so I’m very pleased.)

But the story doesn’t end there. One night soon after I was cruising covers on a different designer’s site. I spotted another cover that was based on the same image but it was cut and manipulated in such a way that (a) looked very cool, and (b) meant I had to purchase it for the sequel! It looks planned out but it was entirely serendipitous.

Suggestions:

1. I would not have tried writing to a cover for my first or second novel but I am more confident now. My first novel was many books ago now.
2. I used to work for a great designer and respect the art. Chances of getting what you need are still best with custom design. Not all pre-mades are gems that match your words. Don’t settle. If you did settle and you know it, commit to getting new covers in the near future.
3. Got an artist with a style you dig? Consider the pre-mades of your favorite designers.
4. Give new, unknown designers a chance, too. (I found that second cover on a site that was nowhere near the front of the google search.)
5. Getting a pre-made cover is a great option for tight budgets and authors in a hurry (though it is best not to be in a hurry.)
6. If a cover jumps off the screen and smacks you in the brain, that is a solid cover. If you are iffy about a cover, it probably isn’t awesome enough. In this case, first reactions are strong indicators. I looked at hundreds of covers before I spotted the one that demanded I write 85,000 words and commit months to it.
7. The bonus is pre-mades can be bought with confidence because you know exactly what you are getting.

Hope this helped somebody. 

ADDENDUM:

For some authors, there might be a bit of a stigma around pre-made cover offerings. They might believe that they are only seeing covers that other authors commissioned and rejected. I don’t think that is necessarily true. In my experience, much of the art you will find among pre-mades was designed by artists who enjoy creating without worrying about any particular author’s specs and proclivities. Cover designers often create for the joy of it, to experiment, to add their portfolio and to add a side gig to supplement their custom work. Let an artist off the leash and they’re free to do something great.

When I worked as a VA for a designer I noticed authors of long experience tend to trust their cover artists more. There was less back and forth with the veterans about minutiae. People betting hard on one book (their first) were often far more exacting with their requests and that was not always to their benefit. I’m a firm believer in trusting my designer to know their stuff rather than majoring in my minor. It took me a long time to figure out what makes a great cover but book cover designers are out there doing their thing every day.

~ For more articles and links to all my books, check out my author website, AllThatChazz.com.

 

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Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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