As I’ve said before I’m heading into self-publishing territory but what I didn’t say was I’m doing things a little backwards. I’m running my manuscript through Critique Circle now to edit it and tighten it up. I’m still researching marketing strategies and how to approach self-publishing as a whole. I haven’t chosen a copyeditor yet. Yet I am working on a cover.
Or rather having a cover worked on for me. And it’s coming out gloriously. Right now I’m looking at a January 2017 release date for my book and having to sit on the cover for that long, or at least long enough to do a cover reveal, will kill me. It’s just that glorious. Like wouldn’t be able to tell it’s not professionally published glorious. And this is why self-published authors should just suck it up and pay for cover art.
The cover is the first thing anyone will see regarding your book. Before even comprehending the title, before seeing your name, before reading the blurb, they’re looking at your cover. Unless you’re actually a graphic designer, you shouldn’t be slapping something together yourself because it’ll look like you slapped it together yourself. That’s not what you want. Unless it is. In that case just ignore me.
But a good cover hooks people. I’ve been a book reviewer since 2009. You don’t need to explain to me why a catching cover works. I’ve watched people fawn over beautiful covers, pet them, lick them (yeah, book bloggers can be weird, I’m okay with it). People go nuts over a good cover and I’ll be damned if I leave that to chance. My cover designer asked for book covers I liked so give him an idea of what to aim for. I gave him a bunch, with explanations as to why each worked for me, what elements I liked, what I originally had in mind for the cover but I wanted him to do his own magic with it. It’s like he crawled into my head and pulled the cover out of it. It does everything I asked him to make it do and I’m so in love with it already and it’s not even finished.
Cover design can be expensive. I’ve seen similar quality work range anywhere between $250 to $1500 depending on what comes with the design. Mine’s a custom cover, from the ground up, and it shouldn’t come in over $500 (I think). Some would balk at that. See above re: shitty, homemade covers. You don’t want people to be drawn to your cover because of how bad it is. Nor do you want people to glance past your cover because it blends. You want it to grab their eye, to lure them in with pretty pictures, entice them to read the blurb, open the book, read sample pages, buy the book.
I know everyone says don’t judge a book by it’s cover. And I agree. Sometimes. A shitty cover doesn’t always denote that what’s between the covers is also shitty. But a shitty cover will leave me far less inclined to pick up a book than an enticing, well-made cover.
People would argue that some don’t have the money to put into a professionally made cover. To that I say your book is an investment. It is a piece of you in the marketplace. It’s a reflection of yourself. No one’s saying you have to spend all the money in order to self-publish. But you’re going to have to spend some. A lot of the self-publishing aspect you can do yourself or find quality free services to help you out. I would not recommend skimping on cover design or editing services. If you can’t afford to put out the best possible product you can possibly put out then I’d recommend saving until you can afford it. Marketing, SEO, formatting, you can do all that yourself. For the front-facing product, let someone else handle the heavy-lifting. Give people a product worth the effort you put into it. If it looks like it was slapped together then people aren’t going to think too much of it.
That’s one thing I’m really trying to do with self-publishing: do it to the best of my ability. I’m in a good position where I can afford to do things that maybe others aren’t privy to, like top of the line cover design, buying into marketing pushes or hiring a publicist. But if you look at the people who made it big self-publishing, if you read their stories, it took a hell of a lot of time, effort, and yes, money, in order to get them where they are. It’s just a fact. That’s not to say I’m just going to dump money into marketing all helter skelter. No. That’s where research comes in, and I’m doing a lot of it. To make sure I maximize the money I do want to spend, where it’ll be best utilized, where my time would be best served, and so on.
I’m not fucking around with this. I’m not necessarily pulling out all the stops but I’m going to do this shit right. As right as I can get it, anyway.