Cover Design

“Judge a book by its cover!” From author websites to cover design vlogs to book marketing YouTubers, when it comes to cover design, they all say buyers will judge the book by its cover. As a self-publishing author with little experience in marketing, this was the hardest part of the publishing process for me.

Bottom line up front: I chose a Ukrainian cover designer I found on fiverr. The design idea was mine, so if it doesn’t sell, blame me not her.

I approached cover design the way I do most things, Googling it. For two weeks, I scoured websites and YouTube trying to understand what makes a good cover design.

First, and consistently across most websites and vlogs, use a professional cover designer. While fiverr was the most recommended site (I have no financial or other connection to them), the range of talent and skill on the site varies widely. Doing a cover design on the cheap, at least for fiction and especially for science fiction, isn’t recommended. I first narrowed down my search to about 20 designers/illustrators who made science fiction book covers, then I looked through their samples and chose three designers whose work I liked. I chose Rebeca over the others because she’s in Ukraine and, given what’s going on over there, if I could help her out and get a good cover design, everyone wins.

Second, look at book covers in the specific genre of the author’s book and pick a few that really stand out—and show the potential buyer what kind of book it is. The picture on the front should match the material within. This also helps formulate ideas for the cover, and having examples to show the cover designer helps them to understand the author’s concept. For genre, be specific. I write Military Science Fiction. More than that, my story is mostly set in space, character driven, and spans galaxies. Since I planned to sell on Amazon, I spent time on Amazon focusing in on books like mine and found four cover examples I really liked.

Third, have a clear idea of the cover concept before contacting a designer. After following step two above, I sort of knew what I wanted: black space and stars as the background to show its mostly set in space, the Andromeda Galaxy (Andromeda Rhoades isn’t just a pretty name), my protagonist and antagonist because it’s a character-driven story, and I wanted the living machine battlecarrier, Rapidan, on the cover if the designer could figure out how to do that. The typical “starships and lasers” motif common to military SF didn’t match how combat works in my universe, so I purposely discarded that idea. (Possible mistake; stay tuned)

Finally, come prepared. I studied the requirements for publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing before approaching the cover designer. I had all the information she would need including the dimensions of the paperback and hardcover I wanted, type of paper, final page count, etc. I also wrote up a description of the design I wanted. Now, the language barrier and time zone difference did slow things down, but being prepared made the process easier.

Will the cover sell? At this point, I have no idea. Never done this before. Everyone who’s seen the cover says they like it, but if you’ve read my “One Month In” blog, it hasn’t been a blockbuster start. I’ve started an Amazon Ads advertising campaign, albeit a modest one. If people don’t click on the ad, the internet tells me that it’s most likely the cover. My plan is to stick with this one for now. By the time I finish Andromeda Rhoades Firestorm: The Local War (Book 2), if Andromeda Rhoades Liberation: The Local War (Book 1) isn’t selling, I’ll likely try a different cover.

Have an Awesome Day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *