Saturday, August 20, 2011

5 Reasons Every Indie Author Should Attempt Cover Design

Every self-published author should try to make their own e-book covers.

Note that I did include try in that sentence. You may not end up using the cover. In fact, you probably don't want to use your first several tries. I've been doodling with cover design for a few NaNoWriMos, now, and while I still think that one of those is good, the rest…

Well, there's a reason I make myself fight with Gimp (a free Photoshop alternative) once a week. I'm learning. Slowly, but I'm learning.

Some authors outsource all covers because they can afford it, or because they want hand-painted covers and have a graphic designer friend. That's fantastic! I'm glad for you—

But you should still try designing your own covers, sometimes.

My reasons for saying that are fivefold:

  1. It will help you better appreciate what goes into making a nice one.
  2. You might discover that you actually like doing it.
  3. Making a cover mock-up (for a "stuck" story) can help your subconscious figure out how to get the story finished.
  4. The more you practice, the more you'll improve.
  5. You'll develop a better eye for what makes a good book cover—which will help you figure out who to hire.

In keeping an eye on others' opinions of book cover creation and making my own, I'm learning about what makes a book cover work, on a technical level. One factor is that it must catch the eye; another is that it must be legible.

My short story "Romeo & Jillian" has had three covers: the one I originally planned for it, and then the two I've actually used. One I bought from Dara England's clearance section. The other I made.

Here are the 3 covers. I did something silly on the two I made myself—but a silly thing that's actually common once you think to look for it. Can you see what I did wrong?


*ETA: Added link to Gimp. Fixed a typo. Clarified ending question.

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