From the research I’ve done this year on self-publishing, everybody seems to agree that there are three things a book needs if it’s going to be successful. Let’s ignore, for now, the marketing side of things (to me, the crucial fourth pillar).
- You need a great story (interesting plot, told well)
- You need it to be edited by a professional (at the bare minimum you need a copy edit)
- You need a professional cover
I’ve recently been thinking about the third item, the book cover. From what everybody’s telling me, and my own experience, 1 and 2 can be perfect, but if you screw number 3 up, people aren’t going to touch it. It’s one of the first hurdles you need readers to overcome if they’re going to buy it. The hurdles look something like this:
- People somehow come across your book (word of mouth, browsing Amazon, via social channels etc.)
- They look at the cover and judge whether it’s interesting enough to click on
- They read the blurb
- They read the reviews
- They make a decision about whether or not to buy it (possibly adding it baskets / wishlists for later)
I’ve been wondering how much I should pay for my cover, given its importance. Solutions start at $5, and end up in the $000’s. I decided to try one of the cheaper solutions, just to see how it turned out. I used a guy called Jimmy Gibbs from Fiverr, and you know what? I’m very glad I did. I don’t know if the below cover is going to be the cover, but everyone I’ve shown it to loves it. It cost $47.25 which means it comes in at the lower end of the cost scale. That included paying $20 to get hold of the photoshop files (it’s pretty important to maintain the branding across sites: this one, all the social sites) so it could have been even cheaper. So, to answer the question of the post, if you’re paying much more than $50, and you’re a first-time author like me, without a huge budget, then you’re probably over-paying.
What’s so great about the cover is that it contains the essential elements of the book:
- The eyes are the portal through which a player enters the virtual world of Solarversia
- The iris is like the sun at the centre of the solar system, and the concentric rings represent the planets
- The grid represents the Player’s Grid
Importantly, the cover also looks good at a smaller size (the size readers first see it on Amazon) and the title is still legible.