If you are a self-published author, or are looking to become one, the one thing we all learn is that we are our own team. Self-published authors are responsible for everything that will make their book a success from concept to marketing. This realization is both liberating and daunting for most.
It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran or a newbie when it comes to self-publishing one thing that you will eventually run into is cover design, specifically ebook cover design since digital media will most likely make up the majority of your sales. This is either an exciting prospect or a daunting challenge. What do you want your book cover to look like? How is it going to convey the feel, theme, and genre of your book? How do you make it yourself? Can you make it yourself? Well, you are in luck, because we have the answers to all of these questions right here.
Cover design is one aspect of the self-published author that many advocate is worth spending the money for a professional design. Personally, I’m torn on it. I’ve seen mixed results. And often times I think it’s possible to do just as well (if not better) than the professionals without spending your entire budget on the cover. However, if you are not a design oriented person, then designing your own cover may not be the best option for you; in which case I highly recommend paying a professional with a proven track record of success. The nice thing is that if you do go the paid route, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – there are literally hundreds of artists on Fiverr that will gladly work with you to build a great looking cover at a bargain price.
If you do decide to create your own ebook cover here are some tips to help make it the best it can be:
- Use a cover image that stands out.
This is probably the most tricky part of the whole cover design process. You will want something that coveys the “feel” of your story without giving away the whole story. Go an Amazon right now and look at the top selling books in your genre and you will see what I mean much better than me trying to explain it here.
One thing you should avoid at all costs is stealing photos for your book cover. If you don’t know the usage rights, you probably can’t use it. There are a lot of free photos and vector images out there if you search for “royalty free” or “labeled for reuse”. The danger with these free photos is that many others can and often do use them, which makes it harder for you to make your book stand out.
2. Make it readable
Keep in mind that most potential readers will see your cover for the first time in thumbnail view. This is very small, only about 2 x 3 cm on a computer screen. Therefore, in order to make your title readable, the font will need to be bigger than what you would normally see in traditional print book covers.
However, not every image of your ebook cover will be this small. The main product page has a larger display, as well as the cover view on ereaders; so it’s important that you upload the biggest resolution image as the site will allow. This will ensure the ebook cover does not look grainy or pixelated when enlarged.
3. Avoid Home-Made
Unless you are a professional artist or photographer I would suggest that you avoid trying take the picture yourself, or draw it yourself. Unless you have the know-how and experience to make it professional, stick with the professionals.
You might think that drawing your own cover will give it that additional personal touch, but the reality is that people are judgemental, and if your cover looks even the slightest bit ametuer, a lot of potential customers will pass on what might be the best book written in your genre this century.
4. Keep it Simple
Don’t be afraid of white space on your cover. This will make your feature image stand out and is often one of the most successful styles of cover design. Good design is simple, it’s easy on the eye, and it works. Think of it like your writing, nobody wants to look at a page of solid text; the same goes for cover design as well.
5. Take Inspiration, But Don’t Steal
Nothing will give you a better idea of what works than looking at what has worked in the past. Looking at previous best sellers in your genre is a great way to get inspiration for creating your own cover. But don’t “borrow” images from others, trust me on this one, your buyers will spot the copy right away.
Look for what you like about the covers. Emulate their layout in your own covers. Do you like the way there is one feature image? Use the same design technique in your own work. Like the type-font style used? Find something similar for yours. The bottom line is we can learn a lot from those that have come before us; there’s no need to recreate the wheel.
Other than that, have some fun with it. Odds are if you follow the tips listed above, and you like the way it turns out, your readers will too.