They say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But people do. Of course they do. Especially in this digital age, where so many people shop for books on the Internet. That ‘thumbnail’ image of the cover that you see is hugely important. It will impact on whether someone goes as far as to the read the blurb for your book, let alone whether they buy it or not.
Back in the mists of time, when my very first book was published, I didn’t think to ask to see the cover before publication day. I was just so excited that a proper publisher had seen fit to put my words in print. (To be honest, the cover wasn’t great, but luckily this was in the infancy of the internet, and before digital books.) These days I have a ‘cover approval’ clause in my publishing contracts. This means that I get to see the cover before the book is published and I do have some small measure of input.
Even though the author’s words and ideas are what counts, a book cover can set the tone for what follows. Publishing a book is about more than just putting some words down on a page: it’s about creating an experience for your reader.
When I began publishing some of my own books, I quickly learned that creating a cover is an awful lot trickier than it might at first appear. I’ve had to learn a whole new ‘skill set’. I’ve got to grips with using Photoshop and Gimp, I’ve learned how to source suitable images, and I’ve found some brilliant freelance graphic designers through websites such as fiverr.com and elance.com.
For my ‘Alphabet Sevens’ series, I wanted a clear series ‘look’, because I plan to cover a whole variety of topics in this mini-book, magazine style format. I umm-ed and ahh-ed endlessly about that apostrophe – technically it’s not required, but this is the visual equivalent of euphony, it just looks right with it and wrong without it. I found a vector image of the alphabet that I liked on shutterstock.com, then used Photoshop to create my first cover. I soon realised that I needed a bit of specialist input to tidy things up, and especially to get the cover print ready.
With the help of a graphic designer in Pakistan I ended up with these covers:
With fiction you can go a whole lot further in terms of design. I wanted the cover of Bad Faerie and the Grotto of the Goblins to reflect the story. I hope (if you read the book) you’ll agree that I got it right. Again, thanks to the wonderful Tab for her graphic design expertise.
Writing books: it’s not quite as simple as a … b … c.