I am sure that most everyone has heard that a book should not be judged by its cover. However, I am also sure that many of you browse both paper and e-book store shelves alike– stopping at the covers that catch your eye–those are the books you investigate for possible purchases. Sadly, it took me many years to figure out that your book COULD be judged by the cover–especially in the e-book market. Until 2012, I did not realize that people shopped for books the same way I used to shop for comic books–by looking at the covers and finding ones that seemed the most interesting.
Admit it, you know exactly what to expect when you see a hunky, shirtless guy with a scantily clad woman clinging to him for dear life on the front cover. You also have a decent idea of what would be on the inside of a book wrapped in a cover featuring a dragon and a knight. If you are looking for romance, then you are going to pick up the hunk book. If you want fantasy/adventure, then you will go for the dragon cover. However, illustration is only one part of a good cover. Fonts, color schemes, and other items like the placement of the author name are also crucial. Take for instance my current book Verses of Athine: The Daughter of Ares Chronicles. The original trilogy, available before I finished Worlds Collide, was initially an e-book only title on Amazon. This is the original cover I went with:
Now, I know this is a marvelous illustration, but it was not the best book cover. Why? Shrink it down to thumbnail size.
So, what is the title? Who wrote it? This is about the size the thumbnail is on any online site. Here, it looks like a picture with words on it. Nothing like a real book cover. It was not until I joined a group called ASMSG (Author’s Social Media Support Group) and read a few articles last year that I understood the need for a cover to look like a cover no matter what format it was being offered in. While I had been looking at it like an ARTIST all this time, I had not been looking at my cover like a PUBLISHER. Thus, I came up with this cover:
Woah! That looks as if it should be on a 6×9 paperback book! That is because I started looking at what a book cover should have on it. A pronounced title, great font, contrast, AND a fantastic illustration. Now, check out the new option next to the original option in a large thumbnail view. You still can’t honestly tell much about what is written on it, BUT it looks more like a cover, and you can make out the title a little better.
I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with my current book. It has lots to do with the current book. Once I had my new trilogy cover prepared, I started handing out copies for review and for my book tours. Now, most of the reviewers found it an enjoyable read. I was getting 4 and 5 star reviews. I was confident in my product. Until, one day, a reviewer I contacted agreed to look at my book. The reviewer was particularly interested in my book because of MY COVER. Eventually, the reviewer emailed me and told me that they could not finish it and would post a review later. I read said review and the only thing that I took away from it was that they thought my cover was beautiful and my prose was not. Yet, instead of getting angry about it I took what this person said and thought about it. I cut out the personal preferences they listed. I cut out the feelings I had about what book reviewers should or should not do. I gathered up my first book Athine Verses: The Beginning and sent it to my current editor for her expertise as I had not had her edit that particular title. I re-read all the books in my series. I went back in and made the story lines stronger. I made four loosely associated novellas into one epic read. I got rid of all of those pesky things that irked me and only seem to jump out at you AFTER you push “publish”. I re-did the cover illustration. Again. I laid out a paper format. I created my first “wrap-around” cover. Plus, I did something extraordinarily hard. After a lot of thinking and debating, I pulled the trilogy and all the “single” stories off the market. Why was it hard? When you remove a book from Amazon/Smashwords all the reviews go away. ACK! By pulling the trilogy, I had lost all the reviews that I accumulated on my last blog tour. But, that is OK. You know why? Because in its place, I have a beautifully polished book with a new cover; it is something that I am exceedingly proud to share with anyone that will read it!