We've all heard the phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover." While it's a nice thought, I'm here to tell you that people do. Not only that, they should!
Think of your book cover like a storefront. It's people's first introduction to you as an author, and it's their first impression of the potential quality of the writing inside. If it looks cheap, unprofessional, and unpolished, chances are that potential reader is going to pass by your book quicker than you can blink.
Let's pause for a moment and go back to my storefront analogy. Pretend you're walking around town over your lunch break and see a restaurant you've never tried. Windows are cracked, the awning is ripped, there's graffiti on the walls, chipped stone, and letters missing from the sign.
You're probably going to think twice about going inside. Most likely, you'll pass by and find a nicer, cleanlier, and more welcoming place to have lunch.
The same rings true for your book cover. If someone runs across your book in an Amazon search, and the cover looks like it was designed by a 3rd grader trying to finish their art project in under 30 seconds so they can play Kingdom Hearts 3 on the PS4, that person is going to assume that the inside of the book is just as sloppy. They're going to expect a haphazard plot with flat characters and more grammar and spelling mistakes than that same 3rd grader.
And really, we can't blame them. If the author didn't take the time to ensure they published a quality, professional cover, then why should we assume they did otherwise for the book itself?
I can't reiterate enough the importance of high quality, professional covers. But the quality isn't the only important aspect to keep in mind when designing a book cover. It needs to attract the type of reader who would enjoy the book. It needs to let people know what they can expect when they open the cover. What genre is it? What's the mood?
You don't want someone to pick up a book expecting it to be a lighthearted story about rainbows and sparkly unicorns to discover that those unicorns acquire their sparkles by murdering each other for sport and paint the rainbows out of their victims' blood. #justsaying
One thing to remember is that you're an author, not an artist. (Unless you legit are both, then ignore my statement.) BUT the majority of us aren't artists, so why try to do an artist's job? It would be like a graphic artist designing an awesome book cover, and then writing the book themselves even though they have no idea about what that process actually entails.
Stick to being a writer, and find a cover artist who will work with you to create an eye-catching cover that will attract readers and entice them to buy your book.
Many self-published authors use the fact that they can't afford a cover artist as their excuse for creating a cover themselves. And yes, it's an excuse. You can get nice covers made from between $200-$400. There are also tons of pre-made covers which you can purchase for under $200. Some you can find for as little as $60 or $75.
Find a cover artist you like, see out how much it will cost you to purchase one of their covers, figure out how long it will take you to save that money, and adjust your book's release to fit your new timetable.
It's better to wait longer to release your book and send it before the public with a professional cover, than to release it 6 months earlier with the 3rd grader's 30 second art project. Give your potential readers a memorable first impression for the all the right reasons!
All of my covers, except for Silevethiel, were done by DAMONZA. In fact, I found Call To War, The Speaker, and A Prophecy Fulfilled in their predesigned section. They'll do some minor changes, so keep that in mind when you're browsing through. The Speaker originally had a veil over her face, which I asked them to remove. Other than that, it was perfect.
I would highly recommend them, but if they're outside your budget, search for smaller designer such as Dark Unicorn Designs who might have some pre-made covers more in your price range. Think about joining some groups on Facebook, as well. It's a great way to find cover artists who will fit your style, genre, and budget!
Are you a writer looking for tools and resources to help you on your writing, publishing, and marketing journey? Check out the part of my website just for you! I've shared some tools, resources, and designers that I've used and highly recommend!
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All links to DAMONZA are affiliate links, so I receive a small portion of any related purchases. I'm not making big bucks, but it's enough to buy some extra notebooks every once in a while! (And possibly some pens!) That being said, I have used DAMONZA for 9 out of 10 of my covers. I would not become their affiliate or recommend them to you if I did not believe in their products.