Hello! Self-publishing is not a joke at all and receiving some extra advice cannot hurt. You will find below a list of useful tips especially if you are going crazy with the creation of your dream cover right now. I hope I’ll be useful to you and good luck!
- Follow your instict. You wrote the book, you know every syllable it contains, nobody better than you can create the perfect cover. And with this I do not mean to say that you must be the graphic designer! I do not recommend it, unless you do it professionally or you’re a graphic design wizard. If you only have a few pennies to spend, use them to pay for a graphic designer and an editor. Everything else can be done without touching your wallet. More or less. I am aware that there is the saying "you can’t judge a book by its cover” but I also know that it is not always true in the publishing world. According to my humble opinion "a book is judged by the cover". This happens especially if you’re an unknown author. Famous writers can also allow themselves to have only a cover with a black background, title and their name printed on it, but an emerging author, even more so if self-published, cannot afford it. But back to us: what is the first vision that comes to mind if you try to imagine your book on the shelves of a bookstore or in the hands of a hypothetical reader or in the list of ebooks available in a well-known online store? Do you have the image stuck in your mind? If so, take a pen and paper and doodle. It doesn’t matter if you cannot draw, that's not the purpose of this exercise. Do you have the sketch of a possible cover in front of you? Well, now you have to work on it...
- Aim to have a simple cover. "Too much breaks the bag" or "less is more". In short, simplicity is preferable to useless gimmicks. I understood this by making a couple of attempts to create my cover. At the beginning I had the idea of having four characters together with Emily, the main character of my book, in the upper part under my name. I wanted it to look like a movie poster (like Lord of the Rings, to make it clearer). A disaster. It would have been too crowded and so I chose to have only Emily (luckily came back to my senses!). Do not tell the whole story of your book on the cover. First of all because it is almost impossible to do and second of all why would you want to take away the element of surprise to a hypothetical reader? That said, I recommend not to exaggerate with simplicity or you’ll give the idea that you couldn’t be bothered to come up with something better and you will have the opposite effect... I never said it would be easy! Finding a balance takes time, unfortunately.
- Try to make a captivating cover. Easy to say, but doing it is another story... First of all remember that you wrote the book (it seems obvious, but it often happens that you will forget it, especially if it’s your first book). Everything represents your own tastes and represents you, it is the projection of the person you are. The cover must also be in line with that. What are the covers that usually strike you? How are they? Which ones moved you? What elements do they have? Go to Google and enter the words "book cover" (you can also add the genre of your book i.e. "fantasy book cover"). Go to images. Save the covers you like. It's obvious that I'm not suggesting you copy the cover of another writer, but understand fully what grasps your attention and what you do not like or that even annoys you. This will also help you a lot. Keep in mind how you like the title and your name to be written and ask the graphic designer to make it as easy to read as possible. Sometimes particular fonts, even if beautiful, on Word, can prove to be counterproductive if they prevent a reader from reading the important information such as title and author name.
- Remain faithful with the genre of the book. It seems obvious, but it is not. If you wrote a political essay, you cannot choose the image of a flying dragon for the cover, even if, between philosophical thoughts you had mentioned this fantastic creature in your non-fiction book. A cover like this would immediately give the idea of a fantasy book and would irritate a hypothetical reader who was looking for something different and finds him/herself stuck with your book instead.
- Look for a graphic designer. I found mine through a professional freelances site (upwork.com). It is very easy to use. You must post a job asking for the professional figure you’re looking for (in this case a graphic designer) and you should be as specific as possible. How much do you want to spend? What kind of cover do you want (created with photoshop, for example)? On Upwork I included the genre of the book and I indicated the upper budget limit I was willing to reach. So those who did not agree with my price or simply weren’t interested in creating covers for fantasy books didn’t contact me to request to work for me. Doing this will save you lots of time.
- Choose a graphic designer that is right for you. There are lots of good graphic designers online and it's not easy to choose. You will get a thousand doubts. Some of them will ask you for astronomical figures, but fortunately there are also some graphic designers willing to do a good job for much less (€ 100/150 in total). Do not give up, it's doable. I created a sort of competition between two graphic designers. I was struck by bothe their works, but I couldn’t choose so I made a Word file with images taken from the internet and I created the cover that I had in mind, asking the graphic designers to make a sketch following my instructions. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece! Mine was ridicolous, but conveyed the idea of what I wanted. Doing this helped me choose. Ivan, my graphic designer, immediately understood the atmosphere that he need to recreate on the cover, he used the right font, the colors relevant to the story (I advise you to tell your graphic designer what your book is about, you will help him a lot) and he inserted in a very clever way all the details I requested, beyond all my expectations. If you have no idea of what you would like to have on your cover, I suggest you let 5/6 people read your book and then ask them how they would imagine the cover to be. They could be of great help to you. Keep in mind that the graphic designer should not only be good at his job. If he/she has knowledge of the self-publishing world, your life will be much less complicated... I'll give you an example. Amazon wants the dimensions of the cover in one way, the ISBN agency in another etc ... Not to mention if you will have both the paperback version and the ebook one.
- Follow the making of the cover step by step. Do not be afraid to ask your graphic designer to change details for you. The book is yours, you will put your name on the cover (unless you opt for a pseudonym), your face will be on the back and your reputation will be at risk so, even if your doubts or delusions of perfection will seem absurd it doesn’t matter, your graphic designer works for you and will be happy to have a satisfied customer (also because, at least on Upwork, you will have the opportunity to review his work).
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