Welcome to my series with tips based on my DIY Kindle-ization Journey. For those who just found this blog, you can take a look back at the Installment #1 Helpful Links, followed by #2 Why Do It? and #3 The Challenges. Tuesday Tips #4 covered the various platform options and what’s required for each. #5 Formatting For Kindle was followed by last week’s #6 Picture This! a how-to primer on including photos, tables and illustrations in your Ebook. If you’re like me and write nonfiction, chances are you have photos, illustrations or boxed/tabled information included in your format.
Today it’s all about book covers. EVERYBODY needs not just a good–but an outrageously GOOD cover, especially for an Ebook. Remember, you won’t have a physical presence on the Barnes & Noble’s book shelf for that impulse buy. The book cover is the virtual face of you, the author and what you have to offer.
I’m by no means an expert on designing covers, but can give you the quick how-I-did-it with additional references for you to find more help. I’ve posted the “original” cover with the Ebook “after” versions of my five book-babies as examples.
You can cut out all the angst and just hire a designer to do it for you. Talented folks–both amateurs and pros–offer services. I received a tweet yesterday from someone who designs pre-made and custom ebook covers starting at about $30. There are lots of options out there. When your story moves readers to tears, make sure the cover won’t leave ‘em laughing–do it right.
You can find a boatload of DIY book cover designers along with some very fine artists/craftsfolk at the Kindleboards site, for example. Ask for examples of finished books before you hire someone. You can find inexpensive services that start at about $50 and the pricier versions can run several hundred dollars. Jenni Talty has an excellent post on book covers at Bob Mayer’s blog.
SIMPLE WITH “POP”
Ebook covers by design must POP even in thumbnail size. Take a look at the amazon.com list of books and all those tiny covers–which ones appeal to you? Color and contrast, type font size/style and even the cover image must come together to explain your book in an eyeblink. Potential readers won’t be eager to click-enlarge to check out every single cover so it must appeal to them first in the smallest format.
Hey, we all want our NAME at the top of the book cover and if you DIY (without those pesky NY editors’ veto) you can schmear your name all over the thing in 2-million-pt font! But should you?
What about the title? Sure, it’s a romance but can that 40-something customer with reading glasses decipher the curlicues in that cursive font–or should I say, “curse-worthy” font? Also be aware that some fonts/styles become almost too popular. You don’t want your book cover looking like every other vampire/sparkly-werewolf/thriller on the virtual shelf.
Image does more for the sale than most anything. Fiction can be tough. They tell us to distill the story into soundbites, but try that without words using an image!
Here’s the deal. If you already have a readership who buy based on your name, make sure that’s emblazoned in bigg-ass letters across the top of the book. Otherwise, get the evocative TITLE out there–along with an image that either shows part of the story or makes readers want to know what the hell it means. The cover’s end-all, be-all is to get ‘em to click on a sample and/or buy the book.
Of course, they CAN get a refund if they don’t like the book so content remains king. But the cover gets ‘em to date your prose; the prose must make readers fall in love, become engaged, and live happily ever after with the AUTHOR (and not just one book).
RE-PUB’ING BACKLIST BOOKS
If you loved your original cover, you may be able to get permission to reproduce it on the Ebook. If you can’t get permission (the original publisher usually owns copyright) or you hate the cover anyway, it’s a do-over. I simply used my original covers as a template, but redesigned and used my own images.
By using the same title and author name/style from the first edition, an author can leverage previous good reviews and name recognition. Amazon.com will “connect” the books so that all print and Ebook formats share one page–and reviews.
Think about a theme. Many Ebook authors plan to write several books in series. For my nonfiction books, the same basic cover format works across the five titles, and I’ve made cat books red, dog books blue, combo green–to leverage the brand. You can do the same with fiction series so that it’s not just an interesting title or your name, but the style of the cover that “brands” and helps you sell books.
Be sure you acquire the correct resolution and format before creating your cover. Kindle requires jpeg (minimum) 600 x 800 pixels. To get into the Apple iStore, the book cover must be at least 600 px high.
I used Photoshop to create my covers. After choosing the cover image(s) I removed the background, and then layered onto the file. So the background color is one layer, the cat/dog another, the color bands a third, the title a fourth, cover blurb the fifth and author name a final layer. I’m not terribly happy with the ComPETability cover and may rework that but the others turned out reasonably well. And hey–the covers were free!
June sales increased once again. So the covers appear to be doing their job. Part of sales increase resulted from June being Adopt A Cat Month–which brings me to the next topic in the series. I cover pricing and marketing Ebooks in next week’s Tuesday Tips!
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