There can be a lot of expenses when you are launching a book, especially at the beginning of your writing career when you don’t have the royalties coming into to cover the costs.
You can swap with other writers for editing, format using free tools that are available, and you don’t have to advertise. But obviously, you have to have a cover for your book.
What I often tell authors in my book coaching business is that you will get better at all stages of writing, editing, and marketing your book as you go on. So buy the best quality that you can afford for the stage that you are in. As your royalties come in, you can afford better quality.
The most obvious area that this applies to is book covers. Every reader will see your book cover, and it plays a huge part in their decision to buy your book or not.
Book covers can range greatly in price from pre-mades to custom book covers. And the price doesn’t always correlate with the quality of the cover. Not to mention, when many authors are first starting out, they don’t know what kind of cover their book needs.
Your book cover needs to do three things
1. Convey the genre
2. Convey the type of story
3. Catch the reader’s attention
And it must do all of that in a thumbnail-sized image nestled among many other images competing for a reader’s attention.
Even if you factor in all these things, the cover you start out with on your book may not be the optimal cover for it. But as I said at the beginning, buy the best you can afford for the stage that you are at.
My Christian romantic suspense series, Hometown Heroes, had a series of covers that were sufficient for getting the books launched and giving them some success. Readers liked them and complimented them. They did their job.
But as I began thinking about the next series, I wanted to increase the quality of the covers. The original covers had given me enough success that I could afford good quality covers that would make my new series stand out.
Like with any author service, I asked other authors who their cover designers were and did some research. When I was referred to respectable book cover designer by an author I respected, I knew that his style was one that would work well with my genre and what I had envisioned. The design he created for the covers of my new books were exactly what I had wanted for that series. It was the increase in quality that I was looking for.
But the new covers were a stark contrast to my old series covers. The covers had been around for several years by this point. Even in the best of circumstances, a series can use a refresh to catch new readers’ eyes and to stand out. Trends for genres change.
In this case, I wanted to get new covers because I was launching a spinoff series, and I wanted a cohesive look between the two series, so it was obvious they were created by the same author. And that meant I needed new covers for my Hometown Heroes series.
The recommended book cover designer was eager to work on my recovers. He captured the feel of the series, the genre, and the individual books well. The two series looked different but related.
Because I was going to be heavily promoting this series leading up to the launch of the new series, there would be a lot more eyes on these books, and I wanted them to look their best. They would play a big role in my advertising campaign.
When I put the new covers on the original series, my sales tripled the next day!
I had expected an increase, but I was blown away by the response. Readers loved them!
Now, my sales didn’t stay tripled (wouldn’t that be wonderful?), but they stayed higher than they had been. Which just proved again that a refresh was in order.
By the time I planned the launch of my new series, the current series truly looked “leveled up” and professional, ready to funnel readers from the old series into the new. Exactly the results I hoped for.
Not everyone can afford fantastic covers from the beginning. But it’s worthwhile to take stock of your covers on a regular basis. Ask yourself these questions about your current covers.
- Are they doing all you need them to do?
- Do they convey the genre and the story?
- Do readers know what kind of story they are getting from a glance at the cover?
- Are they excited about it?
- Does the cover catch their attention?
- Have other industry professionals given you feedback on them?
Readers truly do judge books by their covers. So it’s important to make yours the best they can be. As indie publishers, we have the freedom to change our covers whenever we would like. We don’t need approval of a publishing board.
So if your books aren’t doing what you would hope, if you think they could do even better, or you haven’t made a change in a few years, consider giving your cover a refresh and see what happens. I think you’ll like the results.