Writing Insight-January 2017: Don’t Judge a Book by its Author-created cover

Creating the cover for my first published story was a challenge I hadn’t anticipated. I had a picture in my head of how I wanted the cover to look, but because I am not a graphic designer or much of a photographer (I luck upon a good shot every now and then), I tried to use what little I had to create a cover.

This was akin to light torture. When creating the cover, I never knew how much font would play a role in how a cover is perceived. I was so focused on creating the correct image (which took forever with the limited free clip art that’s available), that I didn’t even think about the font until my “focus group” (my awesome friends) said that they did not like it.

So then I changed the font, then the font color, then the image – because it wasn’t reading what I thought it was reading- and it was getting further away from what I had in my head.

From start to finish (left to right): 4 of the almost 20 variations on the cover for my eBook.
From start to finish (left to right): 4 of the almost 20 variations on the cover for my eBook.

The cover I settled on met most of my priorities: It doesn’t feature faces prominently (so readers can create the couple in the story in their own minds), it has a real photo (which reads professional and contemporary to me), and it’s slightly abstract.

On top of the actual creative issues, there are technical limitations I had to consider. Cover size for most eBook platforms has to be a ratio of 1:1.5 or 1:1.6 (Kindle). Pixels for covers have a minimum. Covers can’t have prices on them or profanity. Covers have to be colored in RGB format. For web versions, the dpi has to be lower than print versions. And so on. These were not foreign concepts, but I don’t work with these things daily.  Creating a cover is harder than you’d think.

Lesson Learned: For indie authors, get a professional to create your book covers. Just because you can create a story, does not mean you can create a visual companion to that story. Readers, even ones who read the synopsis, are attracted by a cover. If you don’t have a following, or are trying to attract new readers, a book’s cover can help you do that. You need that cover to help you stand out from the millions of books out there when you don’t have that cache a “J. K. Rowling” or “James Patterson” name carries. So, why not make it as great as possible?

Even though I have taken a stab at my cover for Living Between Dreams: A Novel, I am shopping around for a professional. I’ve already gotten some complaints about the font. 🙂


“Twenty-Four Hours of Freedom” is available now  for pre-order on:

2 thoughts on “Writing Insight-January 2017: Don’t Judge a Book by its Author-created cover”

  1. Have you tried fiverr for a cover? It’s cheap enough you can get a few people to mock you one up. I did that when I was stuck, though I didn’t end up using them, they gave me some better ideas.

    And your post here is SO TRUE! Honestly, the cover is probably the most important thing to sell your first book, so it has to pull in a potential reader.

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