Cover Me

Hey, kids–

I’m getting ready to launch a romance novella on Kindle. (OMG, yes, Andi does indeed write romance! F/F, in case you wondered)

It’s an indie project and the manuscript is currently with an editor (because I’m all about other people looking at my stuff to determine its suckage factor [hopefully it’s low]) and I hired someone to do a cover for it.

But covers totally stress me out, people. Like, super stress.

Read on to find out why. . .

I’m not a designer or artist. Let’s just put that out there. However, when I worked in publishing (and I did so for about 12 years), I worked with a team of award-winning designers. So I got a feel for book covers. And when I started writing, I made sure to include clauses in my contracts with traditional publishers that gave me the option to hire my own designers and get my own cover art. And I have made total use of that clause.

Anyway, now that I’m putting out some indie stuff, I’m freaking out about covers again. Especially since I’m dealing with romance, a genre I don’t normally write, but one that people seem to think I should write more in. Thank you, people!

And yes, people do judge a book by its cover. Sorry. That’s just how it is. So spend some money on providing a quality product to your reading public. Hire professionals.

So here’s what I do when I’m thinking about covers for the stuff I write. I start by looking through photos to get an idea of what I want a cover to evoke.

1. If it’s a genre I don’t normally write, I’ll go to a site like Goodreads and check out covers in the genre to get a feel for what readers and the industry seem to expect in a cover. That way, you’ll get a feel for what elements and “look” a cover in your genre has.

2. Check out some of the stock photo sites. Sites like BigStockphoto allow images to be used as part of an ebook cover under their standard rights license (an extended rights license costs way more). I read their requirements and then I contacted them directly to make sure this was okay. It was. I also use iStock. If you open an account at any of these stock photos places, you’re then able to select photos for your “lightbox” so you can go and contemplate their pros and cons without having to search. The rates for use are also reasonable. Expect to pay about $20-$30 for a cover-size high def image. Tip: Make sure you know whether the site requires a credit line (that is, a line in your book’s frontmatter crediting them as the source of the image).

3. Check out sites with royalty-free images, like Dreamstime or Fotolia. Definitely try Wikimedia Commons, too. Here’s a good list of sites that offer royalty-free (and public domain) images. That should totally be more than enough.

4. If you think one of your fellow indie authors has awesome sexy-time covers, ask him or her for the name of the person or people who do those covers. Then ask that author if you can use his or her name when you contact the designer. That way, the designer gets some props (you liked his or her work enough that you wanted to find out who did it, and here’s the name of the person who recommended him or her). And if you like the work, then chances are you’re going to pass along that name to more authors. Everybody wins. And I think this is probably the best approach. Ask around.

5. Check out indie cover design sites. Here are a couple I know about. Melody Simmons at or Indie Designz. Check a few, so you get an idea of what services are offered and what price range they’re working in. Most offer pre-made covers. That is, the image is ready to go, as are the fonts that will be used and you just pick it and the designer puts your name and the title on that cover and generally “retires” that pre-made cover from the lineup so that you’ll be the only one using it. Just do a web search on “ebook cover design” or something similar, and bunches will pop up. Be prepared to spend at least $50. A custom design is going to cost you more, and the price will go up if you’re doing print books and ebooks. If you’re just doing ebooks, then you could conceivably get a cover for about $50 (if you go with a pre-made one).

Read all the materials on any site before you engage. Make sure you understand the process. Most designers explain in detail what they’re doing and what they require from you. Follow their instructions when you contact them, and tell them what your schedule is. Then they’ll contact you back and provide a time line and their requirements. Most take a deposit up front. That’s standard, that’s professional. Pay it, and then they’ll do several versions of a cover and when you agree on one, they’ll finish it up and you pay the rest of the fee and they’ll provide the files for your book.

Because seriously. People judge. See below.

Worst Book Covers, FunnyorDie

How about these?

Or these?

You see? Things like this keep me up at night.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy covers. Or something.

5 thoughts on “Cover Me

  1. Oh my god. Those covers are hideous. I agree that a good, professional-looking, attractive cover is important. it’s the first thing people see.There’s a reason that the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover” exists. It’s because that’s what people do, no matter what.

  2. What about software recommendations? Creative Suite is awesome, obviously, but most can’t afford that price tag. What are some good, affordable alternatives?

  3. Hey, Jove–you mean to make your own covers? I’m not comfortable enough doing that. There’s more to cover design than just slapping a bunch of pictures on a template and throwing some kind of random fonts around for your titles. I don’t have the mad skillz for that, sadly, so I can’t speak to what software DIY types use. Anybody? Throw us some tips!

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