Topic: Importance of Covers

Don't judge a book by its cover is sage advice if someone is at the library and isn't spending their hard earned money. The book cover is one of the most important marketing tools indie authors fail to capitalize on. The cover is the first thing a reader sees. They will judge it. Harshly. A self-made cover is almost never the answer and will almost never sell your book.

I've been publishing and cover designing for about 8 years now and thought I'd share tips on getting a great cover for reasonable prices:

1. Don't do it yourself - unless you have extensive graphic design training, rocking PhotoShop skills, and an understanding of the elements of cover design, hire a professional.
2. Be prepared to spend some money - invest $ to make $. There are a wide range of prices out there. Custom covers can range from around $150 to +$1000 depending on the style of cover (illustration usually starts around $450). Premade covers can range from around $150-$300.
3. Fit inside your genre - there's nothing worse than a romance disguised as horror, or a sci-fi disguised as a cozy mystery. Readers should be able to look at your cover and know if it's a genre they read.
4. Know your audience - Use similar authors to find common styles. Reader's look at your cover and judge whether your writing is going to be similar to their favorite author.
5. Don't try to break the mould - market trends are there for a reason. They sell. Good designers will know the trends that are selling, not just for traditionally published authors, but for indie authors as well.
6. Research designers - There are countless cover designers out there, but just because someone says they are a designer doesn't mean they're the best fit for your book. A professional designer will have a facebook page/group or a website with contact info and a portfolio of their work. This will let you know if the designer even works in your genre. Cozy mystery covers are a completely different beast than epic fantasy.
7. Don't try to get it all in - a cover should tell the genre, tone, and a hint of the story. The cover doesn't need every little detail from the story on it. Less is more. Covers show up as thumbnails on Amazon/B&N, so too many elements will just look messy.
8. Premades are sometimes your best bet - If you're stuck with a limited budget, premades can be a good, affordable choice. There are lots of facebook groups devoted to designers posting premades for sale, there's also the site The Book Cover Designer website that acts a third party seller. But be aware that when buying a premade, you're not getting the advice of the designer about whether the cover will fit your genre/audience.
9. Plan ahead - If you're going with a custom design, be prepared to fit into the designer's schedule. Some of the most popular designers for indie covers are booked months (sometimes even years) out.
10. Covers aren't forever - Trends change. If your older covers aren't hitting market any longer, try changing them. Finding your marketing strategies aren't having any impact? Check your cover. It may not be as perfect for selling your book as you thought.