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Book Cover Design - Do we judge a book by its cover?





NOTICE


This year, Christmas Day and New Year's Day fall on Mondays. Due to visiting family and in observance of these holidays, there will be no blog posts on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. There will be additional reminders in my upcoming blog posts. Thank you.


INTRODUCTION:


Greetings to all. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. In my last post about choosing a book title, I referred to book cover designs. Subsequently, I received many emails asking me to discuss this in more detail. Allow me to say that although this is not my area of expertise, I have earned quite a bit by making many poor choices in my early book cover designs.


THE FACTS:


The facts about book covers are simple. Many publishers offer to create your book cover designs. Some include this in their self-publishing packages for those who self-publish, and others cover a fee for it. The facts are simple. When we are first starting, saving money is paramount. Many first-time writers work full-time jobs and do not realize the costs involved.


Writing your masterpiece is the easiest part. It costs you nothing but your time. You write, you change things around, and when you think you are happy with your finished project, you shop around. This is where the rude awakening comes in. Even publishing your book is not that cost-prohibitive. Where the cost hits you is in the marketing. The basic marketing packages that are offered to you by non-traditional publishers do not begin to cover the marketing exposure your book needs to generate sales. When you are up against millions of titles on Amazon, you must make your book stand out.


Besides press releases, marketing, social media promotions, and more, your book cover is critical when people see many book covers on their computer screens. The sad truth is Amazon takes a large chunk of your sales. Therefore, selling a Kindle version for .99 cents means you must sell many books even to come close to getting back your investment. Although I am all for making books affordable, we must ask ourselves if we sell our products short. Are we destroying our market?


That said, every writer does it hoping that a traditional publisher will pick them up. Even that can be costly for the unknown writer. Writing is no longer the industry it was decades ago. Unless you are a celebrity with established notoriety, you rely on luck or a considerable bankroll.


I titled this section "The Facts" because they are all true. I made every mistake possible. I designed my covers, edited my books using essential editing software, and paid to have book trailers created. The advertising algorithms have also changed on social media sites. You need to spend a lot of money to reach a large audience. I am not talking one or two hundred dollars; I'm talking thousands.


I soon learned that my money was just being wasted. I realized I needed professional help. Help in the areas I was not proficient in. I was always good with computers and quickly learned how to create my own book trailers, but I needed help in editing and book cover design. As the saying goes, I wish I knew then what I know now.


TRIAL AND ERROR:


If I were to stay in this game, I needed to become more innovative. I tried different editors until I found one that was reasonable and provided good work. Yes, that was costly. I researched the results of a few other book cover designers until I found the one that would listen to me and reflect what I was looking for. Designers can be interesting people. Many believe it is their vision of your book cover that matters. As luck would have it, JodieLock's cover designs in England came highly recommended, and I contacted her. She was fantastic to work with.


What makes someone a great fit is different for everyone. For me, I wanted an individual who would listen to what I had to say about my book. After providing a summary of what my book was about, I would turn them loose to be their creative self. After all, that's why you are paying them. She would supply me with a couple of different versions to review. We would work together and refine them until I was happy with the final product. This brings us to types of designs.


TYPES OF COVER DESIGNS:


First, you must identify who you are and what you write about. In my case, I am a multi-genre writer. I write love stories, murder mysteries, crime novels, and self-help books. Each genre requires a different type of cover design, for example. If you are a political commentator writing about politics or a medical professional, your cover designs do not have to be graphic intensive. The title of the book says it all. Let me show you two examples. One I did on my own—a self-help title, a disaster at best, and another self-help title that my designer did. Keep in mind the cover should tell the story. I will embellish on this more later.




Can you tell which one I did? Of course, you can. The first cover does not reflect what might be inside the book. It does not entice the reader to open the book and read the introduction. However, the second one tells the reader that it is probably a woman suffering from distress, as represented in the title. This cover will probably make a potential reader want to flip through the first pages or look at the table of contents.


Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. Here is one more example. In my murder mystery series, "Life Through A Mirror," the first cover I did, books two and three, was done for me.

I think it is obvious which two are better—and here are two more examples just for reference.







TELLING THE STORY:


Your book title and book cover should enhance one another. What one doesn't tell, the other does. A reader needs to see the cover as a complete unit and have an idea of what the book is about. At least enough so they open the book, read the introduction, and flip through some of it. This is your best marketing tool.


The phrase, "A picture speaks a thousand words," is true. We cannot be in a hurry. We need to live with our creation and, most importantly, look at it through the eyes of another. Another lesson I learned after 17 years of owning a retail business and being a career firefighter, and paramedic is people view things differently. We must ask ourselves, is the message we are trying to send getting out? Does your cover design and title tell your story? Is it a teaser? Is it eye-catching? Does it generate interest?


Once you can answer yes to all these questions, you now have a book cover. Will it appeal to everyone? Probably not. Nothing does. I have said this many times. Book reviews are important. However, the source is more important. Some people like different types of love stories or murder mysteries. This will get you a varying degree of reviews. That does not mean your book is not worthy. It only means people have different opinions. I prefer book reviews from reputable sources. Sources that are trained to review a book based on the merit of the book, not their likes and dislikes.


The take-home message here is simple. If you cannot look at your completed book cover and it doesn't want to make you open it up to find out more, it is not the best book cover for your story. As I said in my last post, send the cover to friends and family. Get their opinion. AN HONEST OPINION. People who offer ideas often do not want to hurt your feelings. This is not about feelings. It is about success. Ask them to be honest. In addition, listen to their suggestions.


IN CLOSING:


You see, I am NOT afraid to own my own mistakes and not afraid to share them with you. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Unfortunately, at times, they can be costly. Hopefully, you will learn through some of mine. As stated earlier, writing your book is the easy part. The fun part. This is where you get to be creative. Each of us approaches a project differently. When I write, I like to have my table of contents on one screen and my book cover up on another. I usually have three computer monitors open so that I can do this. This helps me to stay on track with my storyline. It is easy to get carried away while writing and stray into many different areas and get a reader confused. Remember, you know what you are thinking and writing; your reader does not. It is your job to guide them through the story as you see it.


It is essential to enjoy this portion of your writing process: the writing, the table of contents, the title, and the cover. The hard work hasn't begun yet. If you have ever tried to market your book, you know how much it can cost. Hiring a marketing team costs even more. You MUST have realistic expectations based on your budget. This is why your book cover is so important. It will be the one thing that makes you stand out in the crowd. Thank you.


I hope you enjoyed the post. Please subscribe to my blog. Thank you.


Please feel free to leave comments, or if you have a topic you would like me to discuss, you can email me at crondina@caesarrondinaauthor.com. Thank you.


Be safe, stay well, and focus on being happy. And remember to always:


Live with an open mind,

Live with an open heart,

Live your best life.


Best Regards,


Caesar Rondina









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