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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Ebooks: What makes a great cover? What makes a bad one?

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

It’s very instructive to read the analysis of what makes covers better or worse. What makes a great ebook cover? It’s often easier to learn what makes a poor one. Art is subjective. We often don’t know what components go into making art “good”. We just know what we like. However, there are graphic designers who, with skill and experience, inject more objective analysis into art than we ordinary mortals. Joel Friedlander, at The Book Designer, is one of those magicians who can break down why a cover works, or, at the very least, he knows why it doesn’t work.

 This week, Six Seconds won February’s ebook cover design award on Joel’s website. Check it out, but have a look at all the books. Once you see the covers through Mr. Friedlander’s eyes, you’ll begin to reevaluate all the covers you see. You’ll look for what’s missing as well as what design elements hit the mark.

Kit Foster: The Dude Came Through

My graphic designer is Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com and he gets all the credit for the win. Sometimes we have long discussions about what the covers of my books should look like. For instance, our back and forth over Higher Than Jesus was exhaustive.

For Six Seconds, I was in a hurry to get the instant guide out because it’s the first book about the Vine app. All I told Kit was: “Gimme a stopwatch wrapped in vines, please. Here’s the title. Do your thing and I won’t ask for any tweaks, I swear to God.” Kit’s solid and, as usual, he delivered excellent art. (He also won for his cover of Higher Than Jesus in the hardboiled mystery category of the Venture Galleries Award recently.) 

Cool guy talk

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copyI’ve plugged Kit plenty over time because I think authors need him and skilled designers like him. If you’re still shy, then you’ll love to eavesdrop on a conversation I had with Kit recently. I just interviewed Kit on the Cool People Podcast. You’ll find him sweet, friendly and Scottish. We talk a little about a lot of things: bad drugs, bad drug laws, good drugs, Breaking Bad, what inspires us and, of course, what goes into making a book cover work or fail. 

Step 1. Have a listen to the Cool People Podcast. (Subscribe, donate, apply to be a guest @rchazzchute on Twitter, do jumping jacks etc.,…) Enjoy.Cool+People+Podcast+Final

Step 2. Go to KitFosterDesign.com and start up your conversation with Kit about your next book cover.

 ~ If you like the Cool People Podcast, you may also enjoy my other podcast, All That Chazz, wherein I monologue, do readings from my crime novels and goof around. Find those podcasts and links to all books by Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com. For  highlights from all my various feeds and content, check out my Rebelmouse page here.

Filed under: awards, book marketing, Books, podcasts, publishing, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book cover troubles and solutions

Too many books won’t be read, and not because they aren’t great. They don’t look good enough for a second glance. There are graphic design solutions. I just fired off an email to my solution, author and cover designer Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He sent me some samples of ideas for the cover of my upcoming plague thriller. One image was particularly strong and we’ll definitely go with some variation of that draft. You want great, not just good. Book covers are not easy. Unless you’re a graphic designer, get professional help with your cover. Maybe even then, you should outsource. Most authors who edit still need editors, so why don’t cover designers need another set of eyes on their book project?

Book art is hard to get right. With his first inkling about my book, Kit has already balanced out two opposing demands: We want readers to be struck by the uniqueness of the image on the one hand (and compelled by graphic design magic to buy, of course). However, the tone of the cover must also be so familiar that the reader will know intuitively and instantly to what genre the book belongs. Unique, yet familiar. Quite a feat, really, isn’t it? I’ve seen some indie authors insist they can do a DIY cover with PowerPoint. Looking at their cover art, I’m sorry, but I can’t agree. I want a cover that’s a delicious chocolate croissant, not a lentil and sewage burrito. I’m glad those writers can succeed despite their covers, but I’m sure they’d sell even more without the self-inflicted handicap of DIY delusion.

My discussion with Kit got me thinking again about what makes a great book cover. A solid title that grabs the

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

reader can make a difference. A recognizable name is bigger factor. If you have a bland, soundalike title (change it!) or haven’t broken through (yet), your best hope is a great cover image and hiring a graphic designer create it. As I’ve already confessed in this space, I experimented with DIY and I hurt myself. I’ve sold enough books in trad publishing that I know a good cover when I see one, but actually creating a decent book cover? Ha! No. I’m not the graphic designer. All hail Kit. He’s a book cover solution.

The problem I see with some book covers is they try to do too much at once. Covers are crammed, as if the author hopes the image will tell the whole story instead of giving the reader an intriguing taste and tease. It’s tempting to try that. I’ve almost succumbed myself, which is another reason to have a helmsman with a steady hand on the wheel to keep you from crashing into all those pretty icebergs. It’s tempting because, admit it, we still think we should pull in anybody and everybody who can read. In my opinion, that’s a mistake. I want readers who really love mystery and suspense mixed with witty repartee. All others need not apply because “all others” probably won’t like my books. That’s okay. You don’t like “music”. Our tastes are much more specific than that. You like neo-thrash synth-metal, industrial-Asian jazz fusion and Tom Jones singing It’s Not Unusual in a duet with the ghost of Tupac. Go after whatever your niche is. Instead of taking little bits from all over your plot and compressing them into a graphical soup, more specific, evocative and emotional images make compelling book cover art.

Please avoid a cover that only makes sense after you’ve read the entire book. The purpose of the cover is to seduce innocent virgins. Don’t require Holmesian cryptographic skills from people who aren’t even your readers yet. Before they are your readers, they are disinterested browsers. Convert them to actual readership with book covers that promise a secret revealed, invite them on a journey and make them hope for a braingasm. (Then deliver it when they actually buy it and read it.)

I see a lot of books where the author’s name is too small. That’s not an ego problem. That’s a branding problem. I understand how that happens. Readability is sacrificed so more elements can be crammed on the cover. It’s the Throw Everything at the Wall and Hope Something Sticks Approach. Take that cover down to thumbnail size and it’s not just readability that’s sacrificed, but legibility and sales. Kit goes with powerful, evocative images so we move toward covers that show and sell. I’m proud to be indie, but I want author name recognition in the long term. To do that, the cover has to look like a traditionally published cover. What’s common among trad published covers? Bigger author name tags.

For more on what makes a great cover, check out e-book cover design awards for insightful commentary that helps make better book covers and sells more books. Or just head over to Kit’s website and get going on your new book cover (or revamp an old one that isn’t selling. I did that with my DIY cover.) Kit Foster is a very helpful guy who does so much for authors at very reasonable rates. You’ve put so much work into your book. Give it a fighting chance to be read. Give your book, and all those virgins, a striking cover.

The paperback has arrived. For $9.99. Did you hear that? Distant thunder of the Book Gods mumbling to each other. Oooh, shivers!

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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