More Than Just a Pretty Face

So you sacrificed all your game time, all your TV time, all you sleep time and all of your family time and finished writing a book. There are dollar signs in your eyes. “I’m the next Hemingway,” you’re thinking to yourself. And when you finish the first draft, the second draft and all the edits, you look at it and you’re pretty pleased. Not bad, not bad at all.

But this book won’t go off to some distant New York publisher who doesn’t care if you succeed or fail. You’ve got your eyes set on fame via the rough road of indie publishing. You hire an editor (actually, your sister agrees to edit it for you), you get a professional formatter (again, your sister), and you have a marketing plan all figured out.

What’s missing?

The cover. Oh yeahhhhh. The art that covers up the front of your masterpiece. The pretty picture that gets people to look at your book as opposed to someone else’s. Well, you don’t trust your sister to do that. Any suggestions?

Frankly, I’m glad you asked. With the influx of indie books, the number of indie book cover designers has flourished as well. And prices on the work of said designers is actually quite competitive. Back in the olden days of the 90s, when I was a book editor, it wasn’t uncommon for us to spend a couple of thousand dollars for a cover design–which usually included custom-made artwork. If you’re an indie author, $2000 for a cover is a chunk of change, and unless you know something I don’t know, that’s not a price I’m willing to pay.

Here’s a more realistic price range: When I started indie publishing in 2012, I was paying $500 for my covers. In the past two years, I have been introduced to some better–and apparently hungrier–cover designers, and the price has dropped to $250 and on occasion, $200.

For some people, $250 is still a lot of money. But you have to realize how important having a great cover is to your success. Think of Amazon as if it were the local bookstore. You walk by and you see a hundred different covers: lots and lots of different options. One of them catches your eye. You pick it up. What do you do next? You look to see if the magnificent cover is consistent with the area of reader interest you have. And you read the back cover copy. Finally, you open it up, and hopefully, you buy it.

So that’s really the point. It’s not enough for a cover to look beautiful, scary, sexy or exciting. It has to be consistent with your story. No false advertising here. And it has to lead them to your back cover copy. (I’ll talk about that later, but it’s critical too.) And that leads to that sale you’re looking for.

The cover is one of your best sales tools. Don’t underestimate its worth.